Straphanger stabbed in heart testifies

January 23, 2009 6:20:32 PM PST
What Christopher McCarthy remembers most about being stabbed in the chest and heart is "excruciating pain," he said Friday. The 24-year-old computer technician from Houston, Texas, said the near-fatal attack happened just as the subway train he and his girlfriend were riding pulled into station on Manhattan's Upper West Side, across from Central Park.

"Right when the subway doors opened, I was struck," McCarthy told jurors in the attempted murder trial of former mental patient Kenny Alexis, of Boston. McCarthy said he never saw his attacker's face, only "a blur of a person flee through the door."

The 22-year-old Alexis, whom prosecutors call "anti-social and ill-tempered," is charged with attempted murder, assault and other counts related to a 13-hour rampage in which four people were stabbed in Manhattan on June 13 and 14, 2006.

Alexis is accused of attacking McCarthy; a Brooklyn resident on a subway platform, and two Canadian tourists on a street in the theater district. He faces up to 25 years in prison on each of the four attempted murder charges if convicted.

Defense lawyer Steven Fusfeld told the jury in an opening statement that his client is mentally ill and not responsible for his actions. Alexis was given a psychiatric examination and found fit for trial, but Fusfeld said he would call a psychiatrist to testify about his client's mental condition.

Alexis was removed from the courtroom for most of the first day of his trial because of disruptive behavior. He was not present when McCarthy testified.

When Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan asked how it felt to be stabbed in the heart, McCarthy said, "Your body isn't ready for it - at least mine wasn't. I didn't expect anyone to harm me that way. I didn't flinch or anything. I just felt an excruciating pain initially."

After he was stabbed, he touched his chest, and "each heartbeat was warm blood spurting on my hand," McCarthy said. He said that as he lay on the floor, his vision of people around him dimmed to silhouettes.

He kissed his girlfriend. Then everything quickly went dark, McCarthy said.

Soon he felt himself being carried upstairs and put into an ambulance. He said he regained enough consciousness to give medical workers his blood type and his father's name and telephone number.

Dr. Raymond Wedderburn, the trauma surgeon on duty when McCarthy was brought to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, testified Friday he had to close a 4-centimeter hole in the victim's heart. He said McCarthy's life "absolutely" was threatened.

McCarthy said that when he woke up in the intensive care unit, "I was pretty much in excruciating pain the whole time. I only started feeling human again after they removed the last tubes and catheters."

McCarthy said he had been a "fairly fit" soccer player before the attack.

The trial continues Monday.


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