ITHACA, N.Y. — A court officer tipped a narrow, open white box toward a witness Wednesday morning to show him the blade officials say killed a 19- year-old Ithaca College student last summer.
The witness on the stand, Daniel Nunez, identified during his testimony that the knife in the box was the one defendant Nagee Green had in his hand when his swung a punch at Nunez during a street brawl.
About a dozen people were involved in the early morning fight Aug. 28, which witnesses say started after a young man bumped into a young woman while walking.
It’s the same knife prosecutors hope to prove that Green used to kill Anthony Nazaire and stab Raheim Williams multiple times in the back.
Green is charged with felony second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Several witnesses to the incident have taken the stand since Williams’ testimony wrapped up Tuesday afternoon, including Cooper Klein and Nathaniel Gonzalez. Both young men were involved in the fight or in breaking up the fight. Neither of those three witnesses testified to seeing Green with a knife.
But Nunez said during his testimony that Green shoved him in the back and, when the two began to swing punches, he realized Green had a four- or five-inch knife in his hand.
“Let’s just say I’m happy I was sober,” Nunez said.
A Snapchat video of the fight was shown to jurors and a person identified as Green can be seen swinging at Nunez. The video is too blurred, however, to distinctly determine whether Green had a knife, something else or nothing in his hand when he swung at Nunez.
The witness, however, said the video depicts Green swinging at him with a knife. Audio of the video indicates that somebody shouts, “I kill out here,” something Nunez said Green was saying.
Nunez said he managed to put some distance between himself and Green and went to pick his shoe up off the ground. It had fallen off his foot during the scuffle. He said he then saw Green run right past him toward an area where Nazaire and Williams were located.
“I’m not gonna fight someone with a knife with one shoe on,” he said.
He can be seen in the video picking up his shoe, and then he said he went to check on an incapacitated drunk friend, who he’d left sitting on the ground.
“That was my first instinct was to check up on him,” Nunez said. “As I’m doing that, Anthony and Raheim are fighting behind me in the shadowy area, and Cooper is still on the street area.”
He then helped his drunk friend into the passenger seat of a nearby car when he heard a scream.
He walked over to the grassy area and saw his friends Nazaire and Williams on the ground.
They tried to find Nazaire’s injuries — Williams previously testified that Nazaire was bleeding from his mouth — first checking his legs and abdomen.
When they lifted his black T-shirt higher, they saw the fatal wound.
“You kind of knew it was right above his heart. It was like a chunk of his chest,” Nunez said. “He was saying like sentences here and there and screaming mostly just like in pain.”
Nunez said he tried to stop the bleeding.
“We were just talking to him at that point,” Nunez said.
Shortly after the stabbing – which Williams said lasted about 45 seconds during a scuffle – EMS officials arrived at the scene.
Defense says scuffle with knife doesn’t prove intent to kill, assault
During cross examination Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney Joseph Joch laid out two major defense strategies.
The first one calls into question whether every witness remembers exactly where they were throughout the brawl.
There is not one video of the entire fight. Instead, it’s pieced together by many short, blurry video clips recorded from different perspectives. Joch has used some of those clips to parse the narratives given by all witnesses that have been called to the stand since the trial started.
His second strategy was to directly call into question Nunez’s narrative.
For instance, Joch asks Nunez whether he was really afraid that Green – if he did in fact have knife – actually intended to use it to hurt him or if it was instead being used to threaten him.
“I don’t think he was trying to scare me with it,” Nunez said, adding that if he hadn’t managed to get away, he thinks he would have been stabbed. “Why else would he take out a knife on me?”
But Joch pressed him, asking how, if Green intended to stab someone, Nunez able to get away from him, pick up his shoe from the street, and help his friend get into a car.
Joch asked, “In other words, he (Green) acted like he was satisfied that (Nunez)…was not engaging with him anymore?”
“You’ll have to ask him that,” Nunez said.
Three others testified Wednesday afternoon. Samone Owens testified that she went to the party at Cornell on the night of Aug. 27 with a few friends. There, she saw Green at the party. Owens said she remembers leaving the party at about 1:35 or 1:40 a.m. with her friends Eris Reimel, John Benton and Green.
Owens said she saw Reimel watching three boys fight, two of which were “jumping one boy,” Owens said. She said she went over and pulled someone out, who turned out to be Green.
She said she remembered hearing, “I got stabbed. I got stabbed” a few seconds after she pulled Green out of the fight.
Owens said she did not see a knife at any point.
After that, she said the four of them ran away from the scene and headed downtown, where they stopped at the A Plus gas station on Green and Cayuga streets for snacks. After that they went to Owens’ house on South Aurora Street, she said.
Owens said Green seemed to be his normal self. She also said she did not see blood on Green.
When cross-examined by defense attorney Michael Perehinec, Owens said what started the altercation that night was a boy being disrespectful to her friend, Reimel, after they left the party. She said he touched her but and said she said she heard him use foul language and make threats to her after she got involved.
After Owens testified, a cab driver for Ithaca Dispatch testified that he picked up two boys from Owens’ address at 4:36 a.m. and drove them to 1611 Dryden Road.
The last person to testify Wednesday afternoon was Investigator Timothy Tuttle, who works in forensics. Tuttle said he responded to the homicide at about 5:10 a.m. Aug. 28. He discussed how police documented the scene and took photos.
The jury was shown photos of the scene Tuttle arrived to at the intersection of College Avenue and Campus Road. The scene was taped off. In one area of the grass across from the bus stop, pictures of the scene show medical supplies strewn across the grass. There were patches of blood by the medical supplies. The jury also saw pictures of the knife that was found at the scene, laying next to the medical equipment.
Tuttle also explained that the handle of knife, which he said was a Gerber folding knife, was not “conducive for latent fingerprints” because of the material.
The trial continues at 9 a.m. Thursday morning with cross-examination of Tuttle.
Reporter Kelsey O’Connor contributed to this article.
Editor’s note: Attorney Michael Perehinec is on The Ithaca Voice Board of Directors. We do not feel that this has influenced our coverage. Please contact Managing Editor Jolene Almendarez at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or concerns.