Mother sends 'save me' song to friend before killing

Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Minutes before Ellie Price was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend, the young mother sent a music video titled Save Me to a friend.

The Nicki Minaj song was played to a Supreme Court jury on Friday, as Ms Price's friend Mark Gray gave evidence about his relationship with her in the years leading up to her death.

Ms Price's boyfriend, Ricardo Barbaro, is accused of murdering the 26-year-old woman in a violent knife attack where he allegedly slashed her throat at her South Melbourne apartment in April 2020.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Ms Price's friendship with Mr Gray, a brothel-owning accountant who paid for her expenses, including rent, plastic surgery and a $100,000 Mercedes Benz sports car, has been the focus of the murder trial.

She met Mr Gray while worked as an exotic dancer at The Men's Gallery in 2017 and they developed a close friendship over the years, the jury of 14 was told.

He agreed to provide her with a rental reference and then paid for Ms Price and her young son to live in several Melbourne apartments, including paying six months rent up front, almost $5000, for the Park Street apartment where she died.

Mr Gray said Ellie looked up to him as if he was "like her God" but denied there was ever a sexual relationship between them.

"It wasn't a sugar daddy arrangement as it wasn't a sexual relationship," he told the jury.

Asked whether he ever considered beginning a romantic relationship with Ms Price, he said "yes but it was absolutely impossible" as she had several mental health issues.

"So it remained where it remained, as friends," he said.

Eight days before it's alleged she was murdered, Mr Gray said Ms Price told him her boyfriend Ricardo had tried to choke her.

When he urged Ms Price to report it to police she stormed off, he said.

That was the final time Mr Gray saw her in person, but the pair exchanged several text messages in the hours before her death.

"Why aren't you sleeping," he messaged Ms Price, in the early hours of April 29.

"Stress :(. U?" she replied.

He told her he would often be up late because his brothel businesses operated 24 hours a day.

She then sent her final message to Mr Gray, a music video clip of Nick Minaj's song Save Meat 3.57am, accompanied by "XX".

Prosecutors allege Barbaro stabbed Ms Price to death shortly before 4.30am, and then left her apartment in her Mercedes Benz.

Mr Gray bopped his head to the music as the song, accompanied by lyrics, was played on a courtroom monitor: "This time, won't you save me ... Baby, I can feel myself givin' up."

At 4.33am he replied "there is just so much I don't understand. I just hope you can sort it out over time xx" but she never responded.

Police found Ms Price's body five days later, on May 4 2020, on her bedroom floor with six stab wounds.

The month-long trial before Justice Lex Lasry will continue on Monday.