A 36-year-old Lawrence woman testified Thursday that her husband attempted to choke her with a cord, suffocate her with a pillow and rape her before he stabbed her nine times in the back during a Nov. 29 dispute at their northern Lawrence home.
“I thought at that point that I might die before the ambulance got there,” the woman said at a preliminary hearing, “so I said as loud as I could ‘I’m going to go see my mom and dad’ because I knew if I never spoke to my children again I wanted them to hear that on the 911 tapes.”
Her husband, 39, faces attempted first-degree murder and attempted rape charges for the incident at their home in the 500 block of John Doy Court. The Journal-World generally does not identify sex crime suspects unless they are convicted.
During testimony, the woman described the attack and estimated that it lasted for 20 minutes. She was the only witness in the hearing, and District Judge Paula Martin ordered the defendant, who wept loudly several times during the hearing, to face a trial on the charges.
The woman said that after fighting him off for several minutes — as he put a pillow over her face an estimated eight times — she told her husband to go get a knife to stab her if he planned to kill her.
“I knew I was getting really tired and really out of breath, and I knew I couldn’t fight on much longer,” said the woman, who used a cane. “I realized that suffocation was not the way I wanted to die. Having a pillow over my face is the worst feeling I’d ever had in my life, and I didn’t want to die that way.
“Maybe if he stabbed me maybe only once or twice, then he’d leave the house, and then maybe I’d have chance to get to a phone or get to the door.”
The woman said the couple, who have been married for 18 years and have two children, had been having problems since they moved to Lawrence in August.
She said two weeks earlier she had caught him having a romantic email conversation with another woman, and that he had gone back and forth between living in the family’s house since then.
Earlier in the afternoon before the attack the woman said she finally told him either he needed to leave or she would move out, which angered him. Before he began to choke her with an electric cord in the bedroom, she testified, the man had talked about faking his own death as a way to possibly deal with financial problems the family was having.
Instead, he left the room, came back, and the woman said he uttered the words, “I have a plan,” before coming up behind her suddenly with the cord and wrapping it around her neck. She said in addition to trying to suffocate her, he also grabbed her by the neck, and she believed he was trying to break her neck.
“I said, ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’” she said. “He looked at me. He had no emotion in his face, no emotion in his voice, and said ‘I can’t stand the thought of ever seeing you with someone else.’ Then he shoved the pillow on my face again.
“I started fighting him in any way I could — kicking, pushing, biting. I remember at that point he said, ‘Stop fighting me.’”
He’s also accused of removing her clothing and attempting to rape her before he stabbed her.
Once the woman said she worried their children would soon be home from school, and she pleaded with him not to harm them. He said he would not.
She testified that while being stabbed she lost feeling in her legs, but, at one point, the man stopped and said, “What have I done?”
Then she said she heard him talking on the phone with someone and later realized he had called 911. Police arrested him at the scene and took her to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka, where she said she received treatment for nine stab wounds, two collapsed lungs, a spinal cord injury and a broken vertebra.
Martin scheduled an arraignment in the case for March 29. Defense attorney Courtney Henderson said they would also begin plea negotiations with prosecutors in the case. District Attorney Charles Branson said after the man’s arrest in November that prosecutors believed he also had some mental health issues.