'I've just been stabbed . . . in my house!'
Jury hears assault victim's frantic 9-1-1 call
In a heart-wrenching 9-1-1 call played to a jury yesterday, a woman shouted for police to come save her from the man who had just stabbed her five times and allegedly tried to rape her inside her Center City home.
"I've just been stabbed! I've just been stabbed in my house!" she screamed hysterically.
"Please have them come here. . . . Please, now!"
As the recording of the call was played in court, the victim, 37, was overcome with emotion as she wept and her face turned red.
Defendant Duane Jackson, who according to records is either 45 or 47, is on trial on charges of attempted murder, attempted rape, aggravated assault and possession of an instrument of crime in the July 31, 2007, assault on Waverly Street near 25th.
The key issue at trial, which opened yesterday, is whether the victim correctly identified her assailant. The victim adamantly told the Common Pleas jury of 11 women and one man:
"I'm certain the defendant was the person who attacked me in my house."
She also had previously picked his photo from a police imaging database and a photo array and had selected him in a lineup.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty. Public defender Roger Schrading, in his opening statement yesterday, put his hands on his client's shoulders and loudly told jurors: "Duane Jackson is an innocent man. Duane Jackson was mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of this horrible crime."
Schrading contended that "people just aren't that good at recognizing strangers," particularly in "cross-racial identification" cases such as this one. The victim is white and identified Jackson in court as mixed-race. He appears to be black.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Bretschneider told the jury that the woman - because of lights that were on in her house, the time span of the assault, and her own awareness - was able to clearly see the defendant and give police "very distinctive characteristics" of how he looked.
The woman testified yesterday that it was about 4 a.m. when she woke up in her second-floor bedroom to someone shaking her leg. "I saw the defendant at my bed," she testified in a nervous voice.
He was mounted as if in a "lunging" position at the foot of her bed, she said. "I screamed, then the knife immediately went into my throat. . . . He said, 'Shut up, b- - - -!' and then I said [to myself], 'Oh God, let him not have cut off my vocal cords!' "
He lunged at her with the knife again, she said, showing the jury how she fended off her neck area with her left arm, and how the knife twice pierced her arm.
"He grabbed at my crotch," she said. She testified that she kicked him and kept screaming as he kept yelling, "Shut up!"
"He seemed really surprised that I wouldn't shut up," she said, adding that he kept getting angrier and more agitated.
The man had "really angry eyes," she said, as he again plunged the "long, shank knife," which "looked like a letter opener," toward her throat. He stabbed her again, in the left shoulder, then left hand.
About three to five minutes later, amid her screaming and fighting back, Jackson ran from her room and down the stairs, she said. She said she then ran out of the room, too, to grab a phone. Once she found one, she ran to the bathroom to make that 9-1-1 call as her throat and arm bled.
During the call, the woman was clearly frustrated and scared. She didn't know if the man was still in her house. A police operator and a fire rescue operator kept asking her questions as she was heard begging them to send someone to her house during what seemed like a long wait.
The woman is to undergo cross-examination Monday in Judge Gwendolyn Bright's courtroom.*