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June 8, 2006
Update: Stabbing victim testifies in Carpio case / Photos
Journal photo / Kris Craig
Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause and a sheriff watch as jurors leave a bus to head into the Providence police headquarters today to look over the scene of the murder of Det. Sgt. James L. Allen last year.
PROVIDENCE – The elderly woman whose stabbing led to the police questioning Esteban Carpio was the first prosecution witness to take the stand this afternoon on the opening day of Carpio's trial in the slaying of a city detective.
Madeline Gatta, now 85, recounted how a man -- his hat pulled down and jacket covering his mouth -- approached her outside her Providence home.
"As he got closer, I started to yell, 'help me, help me,' "she said. "The next thing I know, I felt like somebody hit me in the back. Then he shoved me down on the ground."
The man did not, however, take a purse she was carrying, a point that Carpio's defense emphasized on cross-examination.
Gatta's appearance followed opening statements by the defense and prosecution in the high-profile trial and a visit by jurors to the city's Public Safety Complex, where Det. Sgt. James L. Allen was shot to death while questioning Carpio about the stabbing.
-- With reports from projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
Journal photo / Andy Dickerman
Esteban Carpio sits between his lawyers, Kirsten M. Wenge and Robert L. Sheketoff, as his trial started this morning with opening statements from the defense and prosecution.
In a 45-minute presentation this morning, the prosecution laid out the events, step by step, leading to Allen's death in a third-floor office in April 2005.
In contrast, the defense took 10 minutes before the jury, acknowledging that the evidence would be overwhelming against Carpio. But, lawyer Robert L. Sheketoff said, "The issue is – is he a seriously mentally ill person or not? That's the issue."
The courtroom was packed for the opening day of the trial. Carpio was brought in with handcuffs in front of him, wearing a dress shirt. In some previous court sessions, he had been heavily restrained and appeared by videoconference.
Among those in court today were state Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch and Allen's widow, Marguerite Allen.
Carpio, 27, faces four charges, including murder, in the death of the 50-year-old Allen and Gatta's stabbing. He is accused of wresting away the detective's gun during questioning about the stabbing at police headquarters and then shooting him twice.
For more background, read today's Journal story.
-- With reports from projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
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