Danielle Redlick told jurors Tuesday she stabbed her husband once in their Winter Park home after he pinned her down and tried to suffocate her during an argument.
“I was scared and I was just in fear of my life,” she testified on the witness stand during her trial. “… I could die.”
“Why did you think that you could die?” Assistant Public Defender Andrew Parnell asked his client.
“Just how he had me pinned down and I couldn’t breathe,” Redlick said. “Just the look in his eyes — the anger.”
Redlick began her testimony shortly after prosecutors rested their case in the trial for the Winter Park woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband, a former professional sports executive and prominent faculty member at the University of Central Florida.
Redlick, 48, is charged with second-degree murder and evidence tampering in the death of her 65-year-old husband Michael Redlick, whose body was found at the couple’s Temple Drive home Jan. 12, 2019.
Attorneys for Redlick, who has pleaded not guilty, have said she stabbed her husband in self-defense after he tried to strangle her.
But authorities say the nature of his wounds and her behavior afterward — cleaning the killing scene, checking messages on a dating app and researching suicide, while waiting 11 hours to call police — show otherwise.
During nearly four hours of testimony on the witness stand, Redlick described the four years of courtship and 15 years of marriage with her husband as abusive and increasingly violent as he struggled with his health and work.
Redlick said she met her future husband under “weird” circumstances — Michael Redlick dated and married her mother, Kathleen Aquino, who died a few months into the marriage from breast cancer.
She lived with Michael Redlick to take care of her sister after her mother’s death and after a couple of years, she developed a “romantic relationship” with her stepfather, who was 21 years her senior.
“I think people were really shocked,” she said.
Michael Redlick would “manhandle” her when he got angry or was very drunk, she told jurors.
“Just grabbing me … slamming up against the wall and stuff like that,” she said.
Redlick told jurors about one instance where Michael Redlick was jealous after she saw her ex-boyfriend at a concert. She said she made an “offensive” antisemitic comment and Michael Redlick backhanded her in the face.
Another time, he hit her in the face with his fist, knocking her out and chipping her tooth, she said. He offered to buy her a “nice dinner” and took her to the sports team doctor at his work to avoid going to jail, she said.
“I feel like he took out every frustration that he had that week on me,” she said. “… The next thing I remember was actually laying on his lap, and he was stroking me and apologizing and crying. I had looked down and I had blood on me.”
“Why not leave the relationship at that point?” Parnell asked.
“Well, there was still a lot of good,” Redlick said. “… I felt like he loved me and I felt like it was still worth being invested.”
Michael Redlick struggled with erectile dysfunction and began taking testosterone injections, which improved his health but also made him “sexually aggressive,” his wife said. She told jurors he once threw a box of tampons at her and choked her so hard she started to pass out.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh my God, is he gonna kill me?’” Redlick told jurors. “… At that point, I was obviously concerned about these issues, but I thought to myself, I wanted to stay in the marriage. I loved him. My kids were still very young.”
When they moved to Florida for Michael Redlick’s UCF job, Danielle Redlick said she hoped the sunshine and warm weather could give their relationship a “boost.” Instead, they began sleeping in separate bedrooms and she asked him to move out after he got more sexually aggressive, she said.
“When I refused, he would slap me,” she said.
When she discovered her husband’s infidelity in 2018, she filed for divorce but he avoided getting served the petition, Redlick said. They tried to reconcile but their marriage was strained again by the time Michael Redlick found texts from another man on his wife’s phone Jan. 10, 2019.
“Are you [expletive] him?” an angry Michael Redlick asked her, according to Redlick.
Redlick told jurors her husband battered and harassed her around their home and in public for the next two days, even in front of their children.
“At that point, he was threatening to take the house and leave me penniless and send me back where he found me [and] take the kids,” she said.
After she came home from McDonald’s the night of Jan. 11, Redlick said her husband took her phone, grabbed her sandwich and asked if she was going to a soccer game with the man she had been texting.
“I said, ‘Come on Mike, and that’s when he spits the food at me,’” she said.
When she told him she might go out with the man, Michael Redlick slammed her onto the kitchen island and put his hand over her face, which prevented her from breathing, she said. Using the witness stand, she showed attentive jurors how she said her husband had pinned her body.
Redlick said she thought her husband was probably going to kill her, so she grabbed a knife from the drawer and stabbed him once to get away. She told jurors she then ran and hid in the bathroom, where she could still hear her husband yelling.
“Did you believe that you would kill him?” Parnell asked.
“Oh no, not at all,” she said.
Redlick said she left the bathroom when she thought it was safe but instead found a trail of blood leading to the living room where her husband is laying on the floor. She said she yelled his name and tried to resuscitate him but there was no response.
“Oh my gosh, did he die?” she said she thought.
Redlick said she began to panic and went into “shock,” calling her actions “irrational.” She said she found her phone and dialed 911 but didn’t place the call and instead deleted texts and began cleaning. Other testimony indicated she dialed “911911″ at 10:52 p.m., which didn’t go through because that’s not a valid number.
“I think I just made a series of really bad decisions at that point,” she said. “… I was crying. I was hugging him and I just started wiping up some of the blood. There was just a lot of blood.”
She said she slept next to her dead husband and tried to kill herself in the morning by cutting her wrists but decided to call 911.
“I heard somebody saying, ‘Not like this Danielle, not like this. Your kids still need you,” Redlick said, tearing up.
Redlick said she didn’t tell authorities about stabbing her husband because she didn’t want to “incriminate” herself. She said she also didn’t tell her children the truth on the advice of a lawyer.
“I was scared,” she said. “I didn’t really know to handle that situation.”
“Do you feel that you overreacted when you stabbed Michael?” her attorney asked.
“No,” she said. “I didn’t like the end result, of course. I never wanted him to be dead.”
Before the prosecution rested, Orange-Osceola associate medical examiner Sara Zydowicz told jurors she found a stab wound on Michael Redlick near his armpit during the autopsy, as well as superficial cuts on his face and torso. Bruises covered his left side, including a large bruise on his wrist that Zydowicz said could possibly be a defensive wound.
Zydowicz said the stab wound caused Michael Redlick’s death after it went through a large vein and punctured his lung, leading to a large amount of blood loss.
“He had heart disease but there was no evidence of a heart attack,” she said.
Jurors heard testimony Monday from Jadyn Redlick, who said her mother described the autopsy findings of Michael Redlick’s death as a “heart attack.”
Under cross-examination by Redlick’s attorney, Zydowicz said Michael Redlick’s bruises could have been caused by someone hitting Michael to push him away. Assistant Public Defender Catherine Conlon asked Zydowicz if she had ever said she “did not observe any classic defensive wounds” on Michael Redlick.
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“Yes,” the medical examiner said.
Jurors also heard a tense jail phone call between Redlick and her then 15-year-old daughter. Redlick told her daughter she wanted to talk but Jadyn said she was “angry” at everything.
“What am I supposed to do mom?” Jadyn said on the call. “I don’t know the real story.”
Redlick’s daughter described the first version of events she heard about her father’s death as “lies.” Redlick responded that she couldn’t have explained the truth to her at the time.
“I knew there was going to be possible charges pressed against me,” she said on the call.
Prosecutors will cross-examine Redlick on the witness stand Wednesday morning.