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Vasile Graure is accused of lighting a fire in Glover Park strip club Good Guys in November of last year. The trial, which began on Monday, continued this morning with the testimony of Gloria Anez, a witness called by the prosecution.
Anez, 37, is married to Vladimir Djordjevic, a manager bartender of the club. Djordjevic suffered second and third degree burns in the blaze. Anez had been married to Djordjevic just three months before the incident. Through tears, Anez described what happened to her on the night of November 4 3, 2007.
Around 7:45 p.m., Anez drove with a friend to pick her husband up by car at the end of his Good Guys shift. She stopped outside the Wisconsin Ave. club, greeted him, retrieved some cash from him, then went to the nearby Whole Foods to pick up ingredients for a small dinner party she was planning to hold that evening. Djordjevic was taking a smoking break outside the club. When Anez returned, he entered the car. He was in a hurry. He asked Anez for a pen. Anez found a pencil, gave it to him, and watched him reenter the club. When she saw him next, he had burns all over his body.
Fewer than ten minutes after Djordjevic left her sight, Anez noticed a group of people gathering around the club. She thought there might be a fight, and asked her friend to go check it out. She says she waited in the car about two more minutes before going to see what was happening. She saw smoke coming out of the club. Then, another door opened. Flames were coming out of it.
Anez knew her husband was inside. Someone told Anez that people were coming out the back door. She ran through an alley to the back. There were a lot of people there, she says, mostly employees. Vladimir came down the exit stairs.
He was burned. Most of his clothes were gone. Anez could see smoke coming out of him. His clothes were in “its and bits,” she says; the rest were “smoked and bright red.” She tried to reach him but someone held her back. Vladimir was screaming to the people around him. He was very frantic, she says. He was very awake, and very nervous. As he came down the stairs, he walked like a mummy. He shouted “it’s the guy, it’s the guy,” Anez says.
Anez waited for an ambulance. She couldn’t speak to Djordjevic on the way to the hospital. He’s been there ever since.
By last April, six months after the incident, his legs, arms, part of his torso, and his back were still injured. The legs and back were the worst, Anez says. He had to use a machine to help him breathe, and had a tracheotomy to help clear his lugs. He could not feed himself. He was hydrated through an IV. In a video, taken last summer, Djordjevic appeared asleep in a hospital bed, covered in bandages.
Now, Anez says, Djordjevic is “better.” He is “aware, more awake. He knows where he’s at. He knows how long he’s been there.” But he’s still never left the hospital. A few times, recently, he’s been able to go out the patio. He cannot sit up or speak. He’s lost his hearing. He communicates with his wife through notes on a white board. She reads his lips. He can whisper a little. So far, he’s undergone as many as 50 surgeries. Anez expects he will require more.
“He has good days and bad days,” Anez says. “He’s grumpy.”
When Anez steps down from the stand, she whispers to an observer. “Is that the guy?” she asks, pointing to the defendant, Vasile Graure. “I don’t know,” he tells her.