WEST PALM BEACH -- On the witness stand Wednesday, Vanessa Vandermeeren Sanchez recalled the afternoon in March 2013 when she went to her bedroom to pick up a load of laundry and turned around to find her ex-boyfriend down on bended knee, proposing to her.
No, she said she told Paul Charles, and asked him to immediately leave the Boca Raton apartment they once shared.
"Later I asked him what it was about because it was so out of left field, and he said that was the closure he needed to know it was over between us," Sanchez told a jury.
Less than a week later, however, Sanchez said Charles was back in her apartment, this time armed with a knife he used to stab her repeatedly after they argued over supplies required for their son's daycare.
Sanchez was able to get away. Her new boyfriend, 22-year-old U.S. Navy sailor Matthew Charles Snow, was less fortunate.
He died three days after the March 25, 2013, confrontation from stab wounds that Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis and fellow prosecutor Alexcia Cox say Charles inflicted in a rage.
Defense attorney Jack Fleishman at the start of Charles' murder trial Wednesday told jurors his client acted in self-defense.
The jury could begin deciding the case as early as Friday, but on Wednesday the star witnesses in the case was Sanchez, who cried on the witness stand several times, including when she remembered how she and Snow had talked by phone or Skype every day in the three months after one of her friends from nursing school had introduced them on Facebook.
Snow had been stationed in Japan but had come to Florida in late March during his annual military leave time to meet Sanchez in person. He stayed with her and the son she shared with Charles.
Sanchez said Charles' awkward proposal happened shortly before Snow's arrival, and he was with her when she told Charles that she was tired of fighting with her over their son's care. Either they would have to file a parenting plan with the courts system, she told him, or he'd have to hire a lawyer to represent him on the matter in family court.
Sanchez said Charles said they needed to talk and she agreed, but thought he would come over later. Instead, she was preparing lunch, and Snow was napping, when he came in and asked her whether she was really going to take him to court.
"Next thing I know, I look down and there's blood everywhere," Sanchez said.
Snow, Sanchez said, heard her screams, pulled Charles off her and the two struggled.
According to police reports, Charles, of Lantana, was apprehended shortly after the stabbing at the end of a stand-off with police just offshore on Palm Beach, where he stood in the surf clutching a knife and threatening to hurt himself.