2007_04_postcover.jpgChloroform. High-heeled shoes. A message written on the bathroom mirror. All these were things mentioned during the first day of Peter Braunstein's criminal trial, which proved graphic and upsetting. Braunstein's lawyers do not deny that the journalist attacked a former Women's Wear Daily co-worker in her apartment on October 31, 2005, by posing as a firefighter. But his defense team says that he's so mentally ill that his actions could not intentional and that Braunstein's brain "just broke."

However, the Manhattan DA's office said during opening arguments that Braunstein's "actions were an act of revenge: against his ex-girlfriend, against the fashion industry and against all the people who didn't appreciate him," after being dumped and fired in short order. And since Braunstein couldn't attack his ex because she had a restraining order on him, he targeted a former co-worker who acted a "surrogate" victim and plotted carefully. He bought chloroform on eBay, ordered handcuffs and a BB gun online, canceled an appointment with a probation officer.

During her testimony, the 36-year-old woman revealed what she remembered during the 13 hours Braunstein held her captive. She mentioned that she tried to calm him down with small talk and realized he must have known she worked at WWD when he mentioned he could tell her who reported her for selling shoes from the fashion closet:2007_04_heels.jpg

The victim testified that Mr. Braunstein had stripped her naked and tied her to the bed with a green nylon cord that was connected to her right hand and her left hand and leg. Along with the gun, he had a hunting knife, she said...He also taped her eyes and mouth with duct tape, she said, and he administered chloroform four more times during the night, although she had taught herself not to inhale the fumes and to feign unconsciousness. (NY Times)

When she awoke some two hours later, she told the court she was "naked except for the underwear and high-heeled shoes. I was terrified ... a little woozy. My right eye was extremely painful and almost swollen shut."

Braunstein had changed into black pants, a blue plaid shirt, and had what appeared to be a police shield dangling from his neck. A ski mask covered his face at all times...She testified that her home phone and cell phone rang repeatedly early on and an annoyed Braunstein barked at her, "You're worse than Paris Hilton." (Daily News)
She felt his hands on her breasts and between her legs. Mostly, though, she heard him. There was the sound of him pulling latex gloves on and off - "They sounded like rubber bands," she remembered. There was the sound of him prowling around her two rooms, her wooden floor squeaking. There was the sound of his video camera.

It whirred as he pulled her legs open - when she flinched, he moved away. The camera whirred again as he stood in front of her closets. Sometimes, she heard his whispered narration as he filmed away, believing she was asleep. "This is her closet," she heard him whisper. "This is her hall closet." (NY Post)

When Braunstein left, she waited 10 minutes before trying to free herself in case he was still in the apartment. She called a friend, who convinced her to contact 911, but was nervous when four uniformed police officers showed up. When she told the jury, “I was scared. I just let a fireman in a couple of hours ago, and I was adamant that no one else in uniform was coming in the house," the NY Times notes this was the only time she broke down.

The Post put a photograph of Braunstein's message on the victim's bathroom mirror - "BYE - HOPE THINGS TURN AROUND FOR U SOON" - as well as photographs of the shoes he put on her and the Daily News' Michael Daly lists the horrors the victim faced. Braunstein's ex-girlfriend is expect to testify today.