By Sara Korash-Schiff
Buena Vista’s first murder trial in 30 years began with opening statements Thursday after a jury was selected.
Michael Jay O’Hare, 33, was arrested in May on charges that he stabbed Susan Smith Khoshpasand, 56, of Buena Vista, during an argument in her home.
O’Hare was also indicted on charges of malicious wounding in the stabbing injury of his wife.
Court records show that at a Nov. 15 motions hearing O’Hare’s lawyer, A. Lee Brown, asked Circuit Judge Michael S. Irvine to exclude the 911 tape from the trial and not refer to Khoshpasand as “the victim.”
Irvine denied both requests, according to court records.
Irvine granted defense motions that O’Hare not be brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and a jail uniform during his trial. He also ruled that evidence regarding O’Hare’s prior probation could not be presented at the trial.
The judge deferred ruling on other motions.
Brown did not return several phone calls to his office. Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Russell declined to comment.
Police said Khoshpasand’s killing is the first in 30 years in Buena Vista.
Buena Vista Police Investigator J. W. Miller said recently that police had responded to several domestic dispute calls from Khoshpasand’s residence over the past two years.
“I, myself, answered a call for a domestic dispute at the home about a year or two ago,” Miller said.
Miller said the disputes involved arguments between Khoshpasand and O’Hare.
“There were no physical altercations prior to May 23 that I’m aware of,” he said. “Any prior physical assault incident would have resulted in a prior arrest, but there were none.”
Project Horizon Executive Director Judy Casteele said the case is the third family-related violent death in the Rockbridge area in 20 years. Project Horizon works with victims of domestic violence.
“Once violence begins it normally happens more frequently and quickly escalates,” Casteele said.
O’Hare is being held without bail at the Rockbridge Regional Jail.