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A California man who told police he woke up in a Las Vegas hotel room and found his girlfriend “beaten, bloody and unconscious” is now accused of her slaying.
Justin Medof, 31, is facing charges of open murder in the death of his girlfriend, Stephanie Duarte, 30, after Las Vegas police said Duarte was discovered in the motel room with blunt force trauma to the head, according to a statement from the department.
Medof had allegedly placed a call to 911 around 8:15 a.m. on July 12, saying that he had woken up in his room at the Home2 Suites and found Duarte dead, according to a police report obtained by KLAS.
Police found Medof performing chest compressions on a naked Duarte when they arrived at the bloody scene, but emergency responders noted that Duarte appeared to be in rigor mortis and her jaw had already locked preventing them from being able to perform mouth-to-mouth recitation.
“It appeared that the victim had been deceased for a few hours prior to the officers arriving,” police said.
Medof told detectives that he had woken up to find the hotel room covered in blood and his girlfriend “beaten, bloody and unconscious.” He said he had tried to bathe her to get her to wake up but was unsuccessful at rousing Duarte, according to the report.
The night before she was found dead, Medof allegedly told police that the couple had gotten into a verbal argument on Freemont Street. He said he left her on the street and returned to the hotel alone, according to the report also obtained by KVVU-TV.
Medoff was spotted on surveillance footage returning to the hotel around 2:12 a.m. and Duarte followed soon after, arriving around 2:25 a.m. The door to the couple’s hotel room was opened for a final time just minutes later at 2:32 a.m., police said.
Other guests, who had been staying at the hotel, reported hearing loud noises from the room between 2 a.m. and 3 p.m. that sounded like a couple arguing and moving furniture.
By the next morning, Duarte was dead Medof was covered in injuries, including lacerations on his left bicep, left elbow, knees and right foot. He also had red marks on his rib cage, back shoulders and knees, according to the report.
Medof was taken into police headquarters for questioning but declined to answer any questions and requested an attorney.
When addressing the allegations against his client, defense attorney Robert Draskovich urged others not to jump to conclusions about the case, according to KLAS.
“You never take a police report at face value,” he told the news outlet. “We are now beginning our own investigation, and we expect there to be more to this story.”
According to Draskovich, Medof has also been studying to become a lawyer.
Duarte’s family is now struggling to cope with the death of a woman they described as driven and family-oriented.
“A person who loved life; a person who was always ready for adventure, loving, thoughtful,” her sister, Andrea Duarte, told the news outlet.
Duarte’s family said she had only been dating Medoff for a short time when the pair decided to take the trip to Las Vegas together.
Andrea said she’ll now have to find a way to go on without her “other half.”
“This has been horrific,” she said. “We have never experienced anything like this. It has been horrific.”
Anyone with information about the crime is urged to contact authorities.
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