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Defense witnesses: Knott didn't hit anyone

The defense launched its case Monday in the Center City gay-bashing trial of Kathryn Knott.

Kathryn G. Knott

The defense launched its case Monday in the trial of Kathryn Knott, with four witnesses saying they did not see her hit anyone or yell any slurs at a gay couple in Center City last year.

"I didn't see her do anything," John McCabe testified. "She was standing off to the side."

McCabe, his girlfriend Elizabeth Foley, and Knott were part of a group of 15 friends who were walking north on 16th Street about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 11, 2014, when one person in their group - Kevin Harrigan - said something to a gay couple walking on Chancellor Street, near 16th.

The friends had just finished having dinner at La Viola, a BYOB restaurant on 16th Street near Locust, where they had celebrated Harrigan's upcoming birthday.

Knott, 25, of Southampton, Bucks County, is on trial on charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy and related offenses in connection with injuries suffered by two gay men - Andrew Haught and Zachary Hesse - that night.

Besides Knott, Harrigan, 27, of Warrington, and his friend, Philip Williams, 25, of Warminster, both in Bucks County, were charged. In October, Harrigan pleaded guilty to simple assault and conspiracy, Williams to aggravated assault and conspiracy.

Both were sentenced to probation and community service, and were banned from coming to Center City while on probation.

Hesse, 29, and Haught, 28, both testified last week that they were walking on Chancellor Street, just south of Walnut, near 16th, when Harrigan asked Hesse if Haught was his "f---ing boyfriend."

Hesse confirmed Haught was his boyfriend. He said Harrigan then called him a "dirty f---ing faggot," and shoved him. Hesse said he shoved Harrigan back, and then Harrigan punched him.

McCabe was not allowed to testify to what he heard Harrigan say. But he testified to seeing something totally different.

McCabe said it was Hesse - not Harrigan - who started the physical fight.

After Harrigan and Hesse exchanged words, Hesse "took a swing at Kevin Harrigan from behind," but missed, and then pushed another guy in their group, Pat Conly, who was knocked to the ground, McCabe testified. There was "scuffling" and "grappling," McCabe said.

McCabe said he saw Knott "standing off to the side."

Asked by Knott's attorney, Louis Busico, if he saw anyone throw a punch, McCabe said he saw Williams approach Haught at one point and punch him once. "I saw him hit him with a strong punch, and he hit the ground."

McCabe said after that, he and the rest of his group walked away.

Conly confirmed that he was thrown to the ground.

He testified he didn't see the initial altercation among Harrigan, Hesse and Haught. But he said when he approached them, Hesse "moved toward me and threw me to the ground."

He said after he got up and was "grappling" with Hesse, Hesse "hit me in the side of the head."

As to Knott, Conly testified: "I did not see Kathryn do anything."

Conly said after Williams punched Haught once, he and his group left "the violent situation," contending that Hesse and Haught were "the aggressors."

Conly also said he didn't hear anyone say "faggot" that night.

Another defense witness, Taylor Peltzer, had been dating Harrigan at the time and had organized the birthday dinner.

She testified that during the altercation, she put her hands out trying to defuse the tension. She said Haught was screaming at one point that he couldn't find his "f---ing glasses." She said she had her hands up and was telling him she would help him find them.

That's when Haught just "punched me" in the right cheekbone, Peltzer said.

She testified that after she was struck, Williams ran toward Haught and "struck" him.

Throughout, she said she didn't see Knott hit anyone.

Peltzer said she last saw Haught sitting on the ground, and she and her friends - eight men, seven women - then went to Tir Na Nog, a bar on 16th Street near Arch, where they originally had planned to go.

While others testified they had a drink at the bar, Peltzer said she ended up crying in the bathroom.

Foley videotaped parts of the incident with her cellphone that night. The videos didn't capture any of the actual assaults. One video showed people, including Knott, standing near the FedEx store at 16th and Chancellor, while Haught can be heard yelling for his glasses. Another video showed Knott running toward a scene of a fight, but it didn't show the actual fight.

Foley, 26, also said she didn't see Knott hit anyone or hear her say the word "faggot."

Hesse and Haught testified differently last week. Both said they heard Knott yell "faggot."

Hesse demonstrated to the Common Pleas jury that Knott came after him with an open claw. He said he closed his eyes and was hit in the face.

Haught told police that Knott was one of the people who had been swinging at Hesse.

Haught also testified that he didn't hit anyone that night.

Two women, Michelle Moore and her friend Rachel Mondesir, who did not know anyone in either group, testified last week that they saw a woman who looked like Knott or was dressed like her punch one of the victims.