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Russo murder trial underway

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TWC News: Russo murder trial underway
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The trial is underway for a man accused of killing a woman in her own home.

Patrick Russo is charged with the murder of Diane Holik. She was found dead in her Northwest Austin home in November 2001.

Prosecutors say that Russo, also known as "Tony," posed as a homebuyer to gain entry into the house.

Married with two children, Russo made a habit of walking into expensive homes posing as a buyer without a realtor.

Defense attorney Steve Brittain said Russo was simply window shopping and dreaming what he and his wife would do someday if the Christian rock band he was a part of made it big.

During opening statements, the prosecution said Russo lived a double life as a married man with two children and a youth pastor at a Bastrop church, while being a member of a Web site that features strangled and dead women.

"Behind his life, his calculated desire, obsessive premeditation and patient pursuit. Ladies and gentlemen, Tony Russo killed Diane Holick because he could and because he wanted to," prosecutor Robert Smith said to the court.

A Travis County grand jury indicted Russo for strangling Holik, 42, to death while attempting to steal some of her expensive jewelry, including her engagement ring. Several pieces of her jewelry were missing from the crime scene.

The defense told jurors no theft took place and extensive searches with the most sophisticated equipment turned up nothing.

"There will be no evidence that Mr. Tony Russo ever possessed, to pawn, to hold, for any purpose, the items that circumstantially, we believe were taken from that home," Brittain said.

The defense said Russo is innocent and he was targeted by police because he has a 1992 conviction for kidnapping and burglary.

Prosecutors said DNA evidence will link Russo to the crime.

If convicted, Russo could be sentenced to death or life in prison.

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