2007_01_cortez2.jpgWhile it's unclear whether Paul Cortez will keep his sometimes-absent lawyer as his defense attorney, there's a big article in the NY Times about Cortez's friends proclaiming his innocence. The 25 year old Cortez is on trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Catherine Woods. Woods, who moved from Ohio to make it as a dancer in New York ended up working strip club Flashdancers to support herself, was found murdered in her Upper East Side apartment after Thanksgiving 2005. Evidence, including a bloody boot print and numerous cellphone calls to Woods that stopped after her time of death, led police to arrest Cortez.

Cortez's friends have been raising money for his legal fees. They say that he's too spiritual and gentle to have slashed Woods's throat. And since Cortez, who earned scholarships to Buckley and Poly Prep, had convinced another woman to stop stripping, they feel he was just trying to do the same with Woods. They also believe the bloody boot print is too big to be Cortez's and that hairs found in Woods's hand are not his.

Cortez's spirituality is often mentioned, but one details tops it all: He apparently calls himself yourself "Adonai" (Hebrew for God). And in the past, his "voluntary disclosure form" to the police was described as a "three-page roller coaster ride of love, sex and betrayal." His mother says that Cortez, who majored in acting at Boston University, has been writing poetry in prison (“I have wanted this to be a dream for so many nights. But it is my reality. I have lost many loved ones, my pride, my ambition, my sex-drive, and my hope for a successful future.”)