DARCI Day sat at a glinting oval mahogany conference table surrounded by perfectly spaced leather chairs in front of a bookcase of neatly aligned hardback books.
The young woman on the video link being beamed from the United States to Dublin's Central Criminal Court had platinum blonde hair in front that was jet black at the back and ends. Her pale face and heavy black eyeliner and long hair combined gave a gothic-grunge look.
As she took the oath at the trial of Graham Dwyer, who is pleading not guilty to the murder of Elaine O'Hara in August 2012, only the word 'GOD'S' could be read on her sleeveless white t-shirt.
Launching into a quick summation of her life, her hands fidgeted constantly on the table, black gym gloves covering her wrists. She was born and lived in Maine, and her parents had divorced when she was a child, she said. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother's boyfriend had "issues". She had been sexually abused as a child.
"I struggled," she explained.
By seventh grade she was depressed and self-harming - going online "to talk to people", and using websites like darkfetishnet.com.
She was suicidal, but "I did not have the courage to actually kill myself," she told the court.
Using the name 'Cassie' she fantasised about dying, she said, sighing heavily as she recalled one particularly bad day in 2010 or 2011 when she'd lost her job and the dog she'd had as a child died.
She'd met Graham Dwyer through one of the sites she couldn't remember the name of, and the pair began to email each other. "And we just discussed him basically ending my life ... He offered me a solution," she claimed.
They sent each other poetry and videos of throat-cutting and strangulation, and he sent her diagrams of the arteries in question, so he would not miss, she said. Dwyer even researched "disposal sites" in Maine.
She also recalled discussing Elaine O'Hara with the accused man. He said she and Elaine were similar, and that he used to cut Elaine, it was "mutual… sexual… bondage stuff."
"His fantasy was basically that he wanted to stab a woman to death during sex," Darci Day claimed. "He basically wanted to go after her (Elaine), and if she wanted to, he would kill her and then come after me."
He became "very respectful" when she asked him to leave her alone, she emphasised, and she had since turned her life around and found God, and "incredible peace".
She only ever thought it was a fantasy, she said. "If I had any idea he was serious I would have reported it."
The young woman with learning difficulties, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became increasingly distressed. She did not want to discuss her medical history, but agreed she'd seen a counsellor for "memory" issues among other things.
Asked what those memory issues were by Remy Farrell, counsel for the defence, she answered instantly: "I don't remember all the molestation."
Darci Day had added to her knife collection in recent times, she agreed. Probed about a music video showing a woman having sex with a corpse on her Facebook page, she hesitated and then said a friend had 'tagged' her with a link to it. The reason she found it hard to look away was because it was "horrifying".
The reference to 'suicide.silence' in her gmail address was a deathcore band, she said, becoming increasingly upset as the cross-examination wound on.
It was questions about the alleged exchange of an image of herself to Graham Dwyer that had been Photoshopped that caused her to break down.
"I don't want to answer this question. I don't want to do this."
Slapping the table with her hands, she slumped her head on the table, sobbing, and saying she could not go on.
After a break she did go on, before sobbing again and apologising to Elaine's family, telling them: "I am praying for you guys and I'm praying for Graham."
The issue of the Photoshopped image came up again when Detective Garda Brid Wallace of the Computer Crime Unit was recalled as a witness.
As Judge Tony Hunt invoked a rarely used section of the Criminal Justice Act 1951 that covers material of an obscene or indecent nature, and made the public leave the court, Brid Wallace explained that she recovered the image from a hard drive seized in 6 Kerrymount Close during the search in October 2013.
She believed the woman in the picture to be Darci Day, Brid Wallace told the jury.
In the image a blonde-haired woman could be seen lying on her back with her arms up over her head in an open black jacket, exposing her breasts.
Photoshopped layers had been added to make it look like the intestines had been exposed, throat slit, and torso stabbed, Brid Wallace explained. The image was also given a brand mark above the right breast.
Detective Garda Wallace also recovered a four-page document called 'Killing Darci' from the hard drive, dated 2/3/11 and created at 11.56am.
As the State barrister, Sean Guerin, read it to the court, Graham Dwyer covered his face with his hands.
From the document, Sean Guerin described an urge to stab women that began as a teen, "I thought about stabbing a stranger to satisfy my lust for a while. To take a life in exchange for an orgasm, a memory, a video clip I would watch into my old age over and over again, wielding death. Having been responsible for creating three lives, wasn't I at least entitled to take just one? But who?
"I considered finding someone suicidal or terminally ill, or both, someone with no ties, who needed the courage to die that I could provide. I knew there were many out there: 400-500 suicides a year in a small country with only four million people.
"Also, if someone takes their own life here, insurances don't pay out if a death by misadventure verdict is recorded. Why not become a random murder victim? You get to die, your family does not blame you, but me. You are free from the sin of taking your life and I carry the sin of killing - very appealing to some.
"When she first came into my life I knew her only as 'Cassie'. I was later to learn the significance of this name, which only made me fall deeper in love with her.
"At last I had found someone who ticked all the boxes. Beautiful, young, smart, clear about what she wanted, and, critically wanted to die in the same way I wanted to kill. This was a rare marriage indeed.
"For weeks we shared images, videos, ideas and worked out the details of how she would come to me and how she would die by my hand in my care, my responsibility, and worked out the details of how she would.
"It is not a responsibility I shoulder lightly, and I fully understand the depth of work in preparation that was necessary to send her off beautifully, in her finest pose."
After detailing how 'Cassie' travelled to Ireland to be brought to a cabin in the mountains, it continued: "…I used her computer to wipe our accounts and she posted her suicide video.
"Many people were wondering where she was, that story she gave her family, they now knew wasn't true that she was gone about 12 hours now and people were starting to worry.
"When they would see the video they would understand. They might realise she went to Ireland, but it was too late.
"I was planning to take her clothes and laptop to a popular suicide cliff the next day that she would be missing forever. Her family and friends would think she was somewhere across the Atlantic and think of her lovingly every time they looked out over the sea on the coast of Maine."
The trial continues tomorrow.