Stabbing trial opens on Brac

| 21/10/2014

(CNS): The prosecution witnesses called so far in the trial of Katie Jo Powell (26) for the attempted murder of Yves Anthony De la Torre (29) have given the court wildly different accounts of what happened in the early hours of 20 April 2013, when the victim was stabbed in the neck, face, chest and both hands. The narrative given by the first four witnesses, all friends of the defendant, were very similar, but did not support the crown’s case that Powell attacked the victim and tried to kill him. It was “not her personality”, said one of the young women called by prosecutor Neil Kumar. De la Torre, the crown’s key witness, maintained that none of the four friends were there when he was stabbed, and said he believed he was going to die that night.

In the Grand Court trial, which began on Monday on Cayman Brac, Kerry Christian, Janice Webb and Amanda Jacobs all testified that they had been out to the Coral Isle Club, located on the south side of the island, on the night of Friday 19 April 2013 and stayed until after the bar closed at 2:00 Saturday morning. Michelle Hunter was also at the bar, Christian said, talking to a guy from Grand Cayman, and “the tattoo boy” (De la Torre).

Janna Parchment asked if they could give her a ride home in the white van driven by Webb and also if they could pick up Powell and her boyfriend, Randy Dixon, who were outside Big Daddy’s liquor store, which is just across the road.

By everyone’s account, Dixon was very drunk. Jacobs said that he had passed out on the ground outside Big Daddy’s. She got out to help him into the car because he couldn’t walk properly.

When they got to the house where Powell was living at the time, next to Tip Top Boutique and opposite the West End Primary School, Christian said she saw two people at the back of the house and told Webb it looked like Hunter and “the tattoo fella”.

Powell, Dixon and Parchment all got out, according to the friends’ account. Jacobs also got out of the van to help Dixon into the house and, she told the court, she saw Michelle Hunter sitting on a seat with her head in her hand next to De la Torre. She did not look sober and was “not completely here”, Jacobs said. She asked Hunter if she was OK and Hunter mumbled a reply, but Webb, who was still in the van, honked the car horn to indicate that she was leaving, and they and Christian left.

In her evidence, Parchment added the detail, not mentioned by the others, that De la Torre and Hunter were both naked. When they asked Hunter, who was “completely out of it”, what had happened, she didn’t reply but De la Torre said that they had “just got through having sex”, Parchment said. She and Powell found Hunter’s clothes, helped her put them back on and got her into the house.

Powell asked De la Torre to leave, she said, but he just laughed and said he wasn’t doing anything wrong and he was going to stay there that night.

“What the fxxx are you still doing in my yard? Get the fxxx out of my yard!” Powell yelled at him, according to Parchment, who maintained that between them she and Powell told De la Torre to leave that night “about a hundred times”.

Powell then picked up a knife “to scare him off”, said Parchment, who, although she did not actually see this, said she “heard the knife move off the table”. She said that De la Torre grabbed Powell’s hand to try to pry the knife away from her, but she jerked it away.

At this point she went back inside the house to see what Dixon was doing because he was “making a noise”. When she came back outside she saw that De la Torre had gripped Powell’s arms and she was trying to shove him away. They told him again to leave and this time he did, Parchment said, but when asked by the prosecution, said she did not see any blood on him at that time.

They did not call the police because they did not have any credit on their phones, she said. After this incident she went home but later Powell messaged her to say that someone was trying to break into the house. However, it turned out that it was not De la Torre but Hunter, who was somehow outside again.

De la Torre gave a very different account. After his friend Aaron was arrested for drinking and driving on the way home from Barracudas bar, where they gone after they left the Coral Isle, he and Hunter, who had been passed out in the back seat, were stranded. He could only make phone calls where there was Wi-Fi as his phone was registered in the US and so could not call anyone for help.

He said they were trying to get to Spot Bay. Aaron, he said, had been taken away in one police car but an officer in the second police car offered to drive them there. However, instead of doing so, De la Torre said, he dropped them off in front of Powell’s house, possibly because she and Hunter were friends. However, De la Torre did not want to be there, he said, because he and Dixon had issues.

He said Hunter started to stumble towards the house. A black car pulled up with no lights on, he told the court, and someone asked for a cigarette. He walked towards the car because he thought he had some left but it was just an empty packet in his pocket. But as he was walking away, he heard the car door slam and saw Powell running at him screaming about him “ratting on her baby daddy (Dixon) and something to do with her brother”, De la Torre said.

Powell grabbed his shirt, he said, and told him that if he didn’t get out she would stab him. As he walked away, De la Torre said he was stabbed in the neck. As he turned left, she stabbed him in the left side of the chest, he said. Powell then slashed his face as she was swinging the knife upwards, he told the court. He grabbed the knife and the whole of his thumb was cut.

Bleeding from the wounds, he started walking towards his mother’s house on the south side inDanzler Crescent, he said. On the way he passed out twice, once at Tortuga Liquor store and once at Big Daddy’s. Because he thought he was going to die, he recorded what had happened to him on his phone as he walked, he said.

De la Torre told the court that he started walking between 11:30 pm Friday night and midnight and reached his mother’s house at about 4:30 Saturday morning, where his mother and grandmother tended his wounds and called 911.

When asked by defence attorney John Furniss, De la Torre adamantly denied all details of the evidence given by Powell’s friends. The young women were all equally adamant under cross examination that they had not seen  De la Torre by the side of the road when they dropped Powell off or that she had run at him screaming.

The medical report indicated that De la Torre had lacerations to his neck and face and a deep laceration to his upper chest and wounds to both hands and his thumb. The doctor who examined him said that his condition was not serious and he was discharged the day after being admitted to hospital.

Powell is also charged with the lesser offence of maliciously wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The judge-alone trial continues Tuesday before Justice Charles Quin.

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