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Trial Gets Underway for Peabody Man Accused of Murdering Girlfriend

The trial for Ashley Fernandes begins Tuesday with jury selection in Salem Superior Court.

Jury selection in the murder trial of a Peabody man accused of killing his girlfriend in his apartment in 2008 is slated to begin Tuesday, according to the Essex County District Attorney's office.

Ashley Fernandes, 35, of Peabody, is facing charges of first-degree murder in the death of Jessica Herrera, 25, of Peabody, a mother of two. He's also charged with attempted murder and assault and battery, which are related to another alleged attack on Herrera three months before her death.

The two shared an apartment together on Oak Street at the time of Herrera's death that April, although she was scheduled to testify against Fernandes in a domestic abuse case when her body was found in a closet in Fernandes' apartment.

Once the jury panel is finalized, the trial itself will get underway in Salem Superior Court.

Fernandes' lawyer Aviva Jeruchim had tried to have the trial delayed last month because an expert witness supposedly would not be available to testify until late September. She also tried to withdraw from the case herself, saying she had a disagreement with her client.

Judge Timothy Feeley denied that request, which was not the first of its kind in the case that has dragged on for four years now, reports the Salem News.

According to reports, Fernandes' defense may rely on an insanity plea.

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