The night Warriena Wright fell from her Tinder date’s 14th-story balcony, she sent two messages to her sister. In the first, she called Gable Tostee “an Australian Sam Winchester,” likening him to the lead character from the show Supernatural. For the second message, she and Tostee took a selfie together in his apartment. Tostee, who is now charged with murder, allegedly threatened Wright and locked her out on his balcony that night, after which she fell and died while trying to climb down the building. He pleaded not guilty in an Australian court on Monday.
Wright, who lived in New Zealand, was 26 and visiting Australia for a friend’s wedding when she met Tostee, then 28, on Tinder in August 2014. They met at a tourist center in Surfers Paradise, a resort town on Queensland’s Gold Coast known for a wide surfing beach and high-rise buildings. At some point that night, they went to Tostee’s apartment.
In a recording from Tostee’s phone played in court today, the two drink and listen to music before the audio becomes violent: Wright starts hitting Tostee, who yells and at one point says, “That’s enough.” The music stops and she begins looking for her belongings, threatening Tostee and saying she’ll call the police. “I didn’t say you have to leave,” he reportedly replies. “I just said stop beating me up.”
Wright allegedly sounds increasingly fearful in the recording, while Tostee becomes angrier. After she threw decorative rocks and hit him with a telescope at some point, Tostee allegedly tried to choke her and then locked her out on his balcony, all while intimidating her: “You’re lucky I haven’t chucked you off my balcony you G– d— psycho bitch,” he says in the recording. “You’re not going to collect any belongings, you’re just going to walk out. … If you try to pull anything I’ll knock you out.”
A neighbor heard Wright cry, “No, no, no, please let me go home,” before she tried climbing down the balcony, according to court testimony. Wright fell and died after 2 a.m. that morning. Tostee was charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty in Queensland state Supreme Court on Monday, over two years after Wright’s death.
In court, Tostee’s attorney told a different story, arguing Tostee didn’t choke Wright. He said Tostee used “reasonable force” to protect himself. “She is outside, he is inside and he has caused a locked door to be between the two of them,” attorney Saul Holt said. “What happened in this case is nothing like murder or manslaughter — it doesn’t fit.”
Tostee allegedly tried to contact a lawyer and called his father after Wright fell. “She kept beating me up and whatever,” he tells his father in another recording presented in court. “I forced her out on to the balcony and I think she might have jumped off.”
Tostee could face life in prison if convicted. The trial will continue Tuesday.