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Man found dead at Duluth apartment complex April 19, 2014

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Officer: Suspect admitted strangling girlfriend

LAWRENCEVILLE - Elba Mejia-Mesa used her dying breaths to remind her strangler of the repercussions his actions would have on the children left behind, according to police testimony Wednesday.

Gwinnett police Officer P. Medina said Mejia-Mesa's accused murderer and boyfriend, Andres Luis Rodriguez-Nova admitted to the killing in the back of his patrol car moments after police found the woman's body in her Norcross apartment.

Without prodding, "(Rodriguez-Nova) just started talking about how, as he was doing it, she started telling him, 'Think about your children, think about my children,'" Medina testified in Gwinnett Superior Court.

Prosecutors believe Rodriguez-Nova, 40, flew into a rage June 22 last year and strangled Mejia-Mesa, 44, with a phone cord because he suspected she was unfaithful. He's charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and false imprisonment in the trial that opened Wednesday.

The victim was a mother of two who took care of her boyfriend with money she earned working at La Fogata, a Mexican restaurant in the Norcross area, her co-workers said outside the courtroom.

Rodriguez-Nova has five children of his own in the Dominican Republic, said his defense attorney, David Whitman.

Mejia-Mesa was fearful of her boyfriend's outbursts but remained dedicated to him, her friends claimed. They'd been dating only three months.

"There wasn't any reason for this to happen," said Edita Gonzalez, with the aide of a translator. "She was a good woman."

Authorities say Rodriguez-Nova called 911 from a DeKalb County gas station on the same day to tell police where the woman's body could be found and to claim responsibility for her slaying.

Police found the victim dead at the Lake Colony Apartments off Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and arrested her boyfriend. Police said Rodriguez-Nova confessed to the killing during interrogations.

Mandy Briscoe, a Gwinnett police crime scene specialist, said the victim was found in the bedroom of her second-story apartment, her wrists and ankles bound by duct tape and the cord of a cell phone charger wrapped around her neck.