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UPDATED AT 2:15 P.M.
Shane Simpkins has elected to take the stand in his own murder trial, testifying that he briefly left the home of Mary Ann Zarb one April 2011 afternoon, only to come back and find her dead.
Simpkins, charged with second-degree murder, said his co-worker and co-defendant in the case, Christopher Neuberger, killed Zarb by striking her, then threatened him upon returning to her home.
"He told me he was going to kill me," Simpkins said. "He had a gun. He told me I had to help him (get rid of the body)."
Simpkins has testified for about 90 minutes, giving long, winding answers to questions about his working relationship with Zarb. His testimony will continue after a short recess.
Prosecutors have said Simpkins strangled Zarb, 64, of Estero, and cashed $25,600 of her checks.
UPDATED AT 12 P.M.
The murder trial of Shane Simpkins appears likely to extend into Saturday, with the defendant possibly taking the stand this afternoon and closing arguments tentatively slated for Saturday morning.
Simpkins, charged in the April 2011 death of Estero resident Mary Ann Zarb, continued his defense this morning, with three Lee County inmates testifying about their interactions with Neuberger both in and out of jail.
One inmate, James Ingelido, told jurors that while in jail, Neuberger said he "told (Simpkins) to help me with the body or I'd whack him too." Ingelido added that Neuberger told him Simpkins "was begging for his life."
Another inmate, Trey Faison, said Neuberger told him he was "rummaging through an old woman's house and he got caught doing something and he blacked out when I guess he got caught." Simpkins has said Neuberger killed Zarb when she caught him stealing jewelry.
A third inmate, Joseph Rochford, said Neuberger bragged that he "hit a lick on my boss," meaning he robbed his boss.
On cross-examination, prosecutors honed in on the criminal records of the inmates and their lack of specificity regarding Neuberger's conversations.
Simpkins' lawyer, Steven Smith, indicated it's possible his client takes the stand this afternoon, though he said the two would confer during a lunch break. Witness testimony is expected to wrap today, with closing arguments to follow Saturday. None of the jurors indicated continuing Saturday would be an issue.
Simpkins, charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, unarmed burglary and larceny between $20,000 and $100,000, faces life in prison if convicted on the murder or kidnapping charges. Prosecutors have said Simpkins strangled Zarb and cashed $25,600 in her checks.