Lawyer-turned-legal reality TV star Loredana Nesci was fatally stabbed in 2015 by a “Rambo-style” hunting knife at her home in Redondo Beach, California, and her live-in boyfriend, Robert Reagan, was arrested in her death.
Now a jury in Torrance, California, is trying to decide if her slaying was an accident — as Reagan has claimed — or a case of first-degree murder. Jurors reportedly began deliberations last week, after a two-week trial.
At trial, prosecutors said that they suspect Reagan killed Nesci to avoid a lengthy custody battle over their 5 five-year-old son, Rocco — while the defense maintained that Nesci was killed after she accidentally impaled herself on a knife as she and Reagan struggled.
During opening statements, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Allyson Ostrowski told the jury that Reagan “gutted” Nesci during a domestic dispute.
Her injuries were so severe, Ostrowski said, that her insides looked like “Swiss cheese,” the Daily Breeze reports. She said Nesci suffered an abdominal wound that was seven inches long.
The body of the 47-year-old former L.A. police officer and bodybuilder — who starred in a brief reality series on Sundance in 2014, Loredana, Esq., chronicling her work as an attorney — was found in her bedroom on July 22, 2015.
Police received a 911 call from Reagan early that morning around 7:20 a.m.
Ostrowski said Reagan killed Nesci around 3 a.m. that day, hours before he called the police. Instead, she alleged, he called his brother and sister first in San Diego and they drove to Redondo Beach and picked up the couple’s son, the Daily Breeze reports.
Before he called the police, Reagan, 53, allegedly took a shower, Ostrowski said.
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Loredana NesciChris Ragazzo
The Suspect Testifies
Reagan took the stand in his own defense and denied that he intentionally killed Nesci, claiming she was accidentally stabbed after she threatened him with a knife.
He told jurors that a fight between them began after they had sex that morning and she hit him. He said they got into a verbal argument and, after she punched him, he retreated to the bathroom and locked himself inside.
He said that when he stepped out of the bathroom, she came at him with a hunting knife.
“She did a sort of blood-curdling ‘Get the f— out of the house,’ ” Reagan claimed on the stand. “She held the knife up and took a step toward me.”
Reagan testified that he fought to get the weapon from her and during that struggle, she fell on the knife — mortally wounding herself. “She made a noise,” Reagan said. “She made like a loud scream.”
Reagan claimed Nesci continued to grapple with him for about 30 more seconds and then told him, “I’m dying.”
He told jurors that he tried to resuscitate her, but it was too late.
“I turned her over,” he said. “Her eyes were open and her mouth was open. Her stomach was wide open and her intestines were hanging out … I kind of lost it. I became very emotional. I was screaming, ‘No!’ and I was shaking her.”
He described the deadly altercation as a “tragic accident.”
A medical examiner was also called to testify and said that the knife wound that killed Nesci caused four wounds that damaged her bowel, intestines and a kidney. She also had defensive wounds on her hand, according to testimony.
From left: Robert Reagan and Loredana Nesci with their son.Chris Ragazzo/Sundance Channel
‘She Was Brilliant’
After her death, but before Reagan’s trial friends of Nesci said that she was ready to move forward with her life without Reagan.
“She was brilliant, beautiful, loving, kind, selfless and so positive, even when things weren’t ideal she would stay positive,” friend April Moore previously told PEOPLE. “When I talked to her Friday, even though her relationship was not going as planned, she was positive. I told her that was one of the things I admired the most about her.”
“The time had come for Robert to move out, she was ready to move forward with her life,” Moore says.
Another friend, Laura Riffel, said the couple, who had been dating for more than seven years, bickered — but nothing that would lead her to believe there would be violence. “They were like the Bickersons,” Riffel previously told PEOPLE. ” It was never vicious or insulting. I would have never said I totally saw this coming. I just can’t even tell you, it makes zero sense to me.”
Friends said Nesci was a tough attorney who had a huge heart for special causes, including animal rights. “Her patron saint was Wonder Woman,” said Riffel. “She wanted to save the world.”
“She would help anyone, anytime without questioning it,” Moore said.
The main love of Nesci’s life was her son, according to her friends. “She was an amazing mother and loved Rocco more than anything in the world,” Moore says. “Everything she did was for him. They were so close, my heart breaks for him.
“She would coach him in baseball and loved taking him to games. Rocco went everywhere with her. She was planning on taking him to Italy.”