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Flashdancers Stripper Trial Postponed

NYC — The trial of a jealous personal trainer accused of slashing the throat of an exotic dancer was scheduled to begin in Manhattan this week – but the two defense lawyers went AWOL and could find themselves locked up.

Jury selection in the sensational murder of stripper Catherine Woods – who’d come to New York from Ohio dreaming of Broadway, but settling for Flashdancers – is now indefinitely delayed, and the judge is threatening to have the two lawyers held in contempt or arrested.

“I’m supposed to believe this?” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman said, upon reading a faxed excuse from Laura Miranda and Dawn Florio, co-counsels for defendant Paul Cortez [pictured].

The lawyers each claimed a sudden personal emergency. They had been complaining that they would not be ready to start the trial Monday.

Back story: NEW YORK (AP) – The former boyfriend charged with killing a classically trained and aspiring dancer who came to New York to be on Broadway but instead became a stripper has said that he is innocent and was trying to save the woman he loved from a dangerous job.

Paul Cortez, the yoga instructor and rock musician who police say slashed Catherine Woods’ throat and left her dead in her apartment, is expected to appear in court this week as his trial opens in Manhattan. Cortez, who has been jailed since his arrest for the 2005 slaying of Woods, faces a second-degree murder charge.

Jury selection had been scheduled for Monday morning, but was postponed and could be adjourned until another day.

Woods, 21, was found dead Nov. 27, 2005, by another former boyfriend, David Haughn, who she lived with at an East 86th Street apartment. Investigators first turned their attention toward Haughn as a potential suspect in the slaying, but later took Cortez into custody.

Prosecutors said that a bloody fingerprint discovered in Woods’ apartment led to Cortez’ arrest and that witnesses reported seeing the two together at various times before her death.

Woods had come from Columbus, Ohio, in 2002 with the dream of becoming a dancer on Broadway. But the expense of the city and the competitiveness of her chosen career forced her to take a job in a topless bar, Privilege, working under the stage name Ava.

Her father, Jon Woods, is the director of the Ohio State University marching band.

Cortez and Catherine Woods met in 2004 and dated for a number of months. But Cortez was concerned about Woods working as an exotic dancer, especially after she appeared to have been drugged while on the job, and blacked out in 2005. He told police in a written statement that he believed she may have been raped.

In the same statement, Cortez said he took Woods to the hospital and called her father to tell him about her working as a stripper. Her father later flew from Ohio to New York to confront her, but his daughter denied working as an exotic dancer.

“I believe she told him that I made up the whole thing,” Cortez wrote.

Cortez and Woods appear to have split after the incident, but he continued to pursue her, according to police. It was not clear what their relationship was when Woods was killed.

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