A man charged with the murder of a young woman in Highland Park told a Criminal Court jury on Thursday that she came at him with two knives.
Tyrone Murphy, 58, said he was first cut in the hand as they struggled, then she began to be cut.
He said he had just gotten dropped off from work when he climbed the stairs at 1512 Bailey Ave. "head down, tired." He said, "A door came flying open and a lady came running out - hair bushy, eyes big, two blades (flashing)."
Murphy said there was a struggle all across the hallway. "I was begging her to drop the knives."
He said, "Near the door, now she's getting cut. It was crazy after that. It was ugly the way it ended. I threw her in the room.
"I'm bleeding bad, but she's bleeding badder."
Dr. James Metcalf earlier Thursday told the jury that 30-year-old Ashley Cates was stabbed multiple times, including four blows that each would have taken her life. Another went into her skull so deeply that the point of the knife broke off.
The medical examiner said it appeared from hand marks on the victim's bloody legs that her attacker was trying to pry them apart.
Dr. Metcalf said after the stabbing "she would have died in a few short minutes."
Murphy said after the early morning incident, "My head was spinning. I was shaking. I ain't been the same since. It took me 10 months to come out of this.
"I would never have thought I would have been involved in something like that."
Asked why he did not call police, Murphy said he feared that he would be "body slammed, hog tied and have my head beat in with their flashlights."
Murphy said he is from Cincinnati, but had lived four years at the Bailey Avenue address. He said he was in charge of maintenance at the Community Kitchen and worked a second job washing dishes at Sticky Fingers downtown.
Prosecutors said he had an old robbery conviction and more recently had drug and burglary convictions in Knoxville.
The mother of the victim, Janice Mosteller, said of the move to Bailey Avenue, "We were trying to get her to spread her wings and be a little bit more independent."
They helped her move in the second or third week in May of last year.
The mother said, "I visited her numerous times. She seemed to be doing okay."
She said the night of the murder that she took pizza and beer to the apartment and they watched a hockey game. She said she offered to stay the night, but her daughter said, "I'm okay."
Ms. Mosteller said they became concerned when she did not show up the next day to house sit for a family friend and when she did not respond to calls and texts. They went to the apartment building and saw her blue SUV there.
She said, "I was knocking and calling her name. Finally we got the door pried open and I saw her lying there covered in knife wounds. I asked my husband if she was alive and he said, 'No.' I started screaming and ran down the stairs.
"My mind just couldn't comprehend this. I couldn't believe it."
She said her daughter's cell phone was never found.