BOSTON (CBS) – On Thursday, jurors found a 20-year-old Wayland man guilty of murder in the brutal death of his ex-girlfriend.
In July 2011, Nate Fujita stabbed and strangled 18-year-old Lauren Astley at his home.
In the year and a half since Lauren was killed, her parents had begun to heal, but the details, evidence and testimony of the murder trial brought all the pain back.
“It was incredible grief in reliving the sadness with her death and renewing the new sadness of his fate,” said Lauren’s father Malcolm.
Lauren’s mother, Mary Dunne said, “There was definitely relief but there was also sadness.”
One of the most dramatic moments of the trial came during prosecutor Lisa McGovern’s closing statements.
“When Lisa McGovern kneeled down in the courtroom with the bungee cord around her neck, that brought much of it back,” said Malcolm. “The immediacy of it, that was utterly painful but important for people to realize what viciousness had taken place and what pain had been caused and this beautiful life that ended in such utter intense misery.”
Related: Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund
Fujita’s defense attorney, William Sullivan, said Fujita was not in his right mind when he killed Astley. He cited a family history of mental illness, signs of depression in the year leading up to the murder, and even raised the possibility that Fujita was suffering from CTE from head injuries playing high school football.
“I believe there was criminal responsibility,” said Mary. “I think he was calculated and planful and organized and purposeful. That’s what the evidence told me. And I think if you are that, then you must pay. She doesn’t get to come back so he shouldn’t.”
When the verdict was read, Malcolm went over to Nate Fujita’s parents and they hugged.
“We just said to each other ‘sorry, sorry, sorry,’” said Malcolm. “I think it was just sharing grief.”
In that moment was the realization that both families had lost their child. For Mary and Malcolm, there may be some relief but there is tremendous pain.
“I talk to her everyday,” says Mary. “I continue to rely on the people who have been standing behind me and holding me up for the last two years and hope they don’t lose patience.”
“I have her swing still hanging in the backyard,” said Malcolm, “and on it is a bow and the bow flickers in the wind and I talk to that. I imagine her waving at me as I go in and out and I cheer her on and she cheers me on.”
Mary said the warning signs before the murder were subtle. She believed her daughter wasn’t afraid, just concerned that Nate could be a jerk, but never a killer.
Both Mary and Malcolm helped build the Lauren Dunne Astley Foundation.
Their goal is to educate others about the dangers of violence against girls and women, hoping this will never happen again.