Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Did He Stab You?': Man Who Fended off Attacker Testifies at Murder Trial

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Did He Stab You?': Man Who Fended off Attacker Testifies at Murder Trial

Article excerpt

'Did he stab you?':Witness testifies at trial

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TORONTO - David Hughes still remembers the piercing screams, the skirmish with a knife-wielding attacker and the blood gushing from Nighisti Semret's stab wounds.

The 59-year-old recounted the incident Tuesday before a jury hearing the case against Adonay Zekarias, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Semret.

Hughes testified that he used his umbrella to fend off the person who stabbed Semret in a Toronto laneway nearly three years ago.

Semret was walking home from an overnight shift at a downtown hotel on a rainy morning in October 2012 when she was attacked.

"I heard a woman screaming," said Hughes, who had been out walking in the area. "It was awful, you knew somebody was in serious trouble."

After the third scream, Hughes closed his black umbrella and began to run until he saw two figures in a laneway -- a woman on the ground and a man crouched over her, court heard.

Hughes yelled to ask what was going on at which point the man stood up and turned towards him, revealing a "big knife" in his right hand, court heard.

"It's like any butcher knife, a kitchen knife, with a big silver blade," Hughes recalled. "He started jabbing it towards me."

At that point, Hughes went into what he called "defensive mode" and used his umbrella to take swings at the man wielding the knife, court heard.

"I'm staring right at his hand and just keep swinging," Hughes said. "I swung probably about three or four times by the time the knife falls out of his hand and hits the ground."

Hughes yelled at the man, telling him to get out of the area, but the man crouched on the ground and scrambled to retrieve his knife, Hughes said.

"He was making funny throaty sounds," Hughes recalled. "Like a guy in a panic."

Hughes kept swinging his umbrella, court heard, but the man managed to grab his knife, court heard.

"I take one more swing at him and my umbrella opens up. I thought I was a goner then because I can't really see nothing," Hughes said. …

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