ITHACA, N.Y. — In a video shown as evidence during Benjamin Cayea’s murder trial Friday, he told a police investigator that he choked his girlfriend Shannon Jones to death after he took a bite of her Thanksgiving dinner and she began yelling and hitting him.

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“She started telling me how worthless I was because I couldn’t even think for a minute that that would upset her,” Cayea said during the video.

While the evidence was being projected onto the wall of the courthouse, Cayea often cried into his hands and looked away from the screen.

In the video, he told Tompkins County Investigator Kevin Cowen — who questioned him the night he was taken into custody — that he and Jones argued for the second time that day after he took a bite of turkey from a dinner he’d brought her because she was sick.

Benjamin Cayea in court Friday
Benjamin Cayea in court Friday

He said they went from room to room in the apartment they shared while he tried to “diffuse the situation.”

“She was just hitting and pushing me and just yelling at me,” Cayea said in the video. “The next thing I knew she was on the ground. She wasn’t moving and I had my hands around her throat.”

Cayea is charged with second-degree murder for the death of 23-year-old Cornell University student Jones.

Testimony, evidence reveals new facts about case

Testimony from police officers who took Cayea into custody at the scene or found Jones dead in her Cayuga Heights apartment at 400 North Triphammer Road revealed information about the case that has not previously been released to the public.

The following six facts are among the new information during affirmed the first day of the trial:

1) Cayea was sitting on the kitchen floor at his friend’s house in a black hooded sweatshirt and khaki pants the night officers took him into custody. He was immediately handcuffed by deputy Mark Jones (Of no relation to Shannon Jones) because he’d made threats to kill himself. Officers said Cayea was compliant and did not try to resist arrest.

2) Scratch marks were found on the left side of Cayea’s neck, near his ear, when he was taken into custody.

3) An EMS crew from Bangs Ambulance and a responding deputy tried to resuscitate Jones because officials did not know how long she’d been laying on the floor.

4) Cayea did not try to resuscitate Jones because he said she knew that she was “gone.” He said in a video played in court as evidence, “I didn’t know what to do.” He said he roamed from room to room crying and apologizing to her before going to his friend’s house.

5) A children’s book entitled, “Guess How Much I love You,” was found by Jones’ body in their bedroom.

6) Cayea told the detective that sexual activity had nothing to do with Jones’ death.

After trial, Cayea talked to three people who were seated in the front row of the courtroom who said they would see him soon.

Outside the courthouse, Cayea’s attorney Matt Van Houten said , “There is no question my client is going to testify and tell his side of the story.”

The second day of trial starts Monday morning.

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Round-up of previous coverage

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Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.