Trial kicks off for man accused of stabbing children 27 times in NYCHA elevator
Brooklyn Supreme Court jurors were painted the picture of a 2014 summer day of play for two children that resulted with them being stabbed 27 times in a public housing elevator, leaving one child dead.
Daniel St. Hubert, 30, is on trial for allegedly following then 7-year-old Mikayla Capers and 6-year-old P.J. Avitto into the cramped elevator of their building in East New York’s Boulevard Houses and continuously stabbing and slashing them on June 1, 2014, prosecutors said.
After playing outside, the children were going in to get some Italian ices.
“They were the perfect image of childhood innocence,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick O’Connor told jurors in his opening argument of the trial. “But that innocence was soon to be viciously destroyed, obliterated, when a large hulking man,” walked into the elevator behind them.
To the winces of jurors and a symphony of sobs from the victims’ relatives in the audience, O’Connor described the steak knife slaughter.
“He proceeded to take that knife and hack those little children to pieces,” O’Connor said as jurors’ faces visibly changed. “This was a frenzy of stabbing and slashing.”
Before St. Hubert allegedly ran off, he’s accused of stabbing Avitto 11 times, leaving him to bleed out from a chest wound, and stabbing Capers 16 times throughout the body.
Capers then crawled out of the elevator, leaving a blood trail in the building before someone found her and she was eventually rushed to Brookdale Hospital with Avitto, who died on the scene.
All the while, St. Hubert allegedly walked past the adults who allowed the children to go off alone, until he was arrested four days later.
In argument for about an hour, O’Connor paced throughout the room, sometimes yelling and pointing to the defense table when describing the events and evidence of the case in detail.
Eye witnesses that claim they saw St. Hubert fleeing, say they saw him tripping and falling when leaving the area.
A bloody knife was later found near the spot he fell that tested positive for his DNA on the handle as well as that of the two children. And when police searched his apartment, they found a knife set matching the knife used with some utensils missing, O’Connor said.
But St. Hubert’s attorney Howard Greenberg assured jurors that his client is a “patsy.”
Surrounded by news cameras, Greenberg walked over to the rosary-adorned St. Hubert, grabbed him and kissed him on the forehead, saying he needed a hug after listening to O’Connor’s opening statement, to prosecutors’ objections.
“I for one do not worship at the altar of DNA,” Greenberg said about the evidence, calling it “junk science.’
He added that St. Hubert’s fingerprints were not found and none of the witnesses actually saw the murder.
Greenberg also put heat on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for having locks on the doors that didn’t work.
Last month, Capers’ family settled a civil suit against NYCHA.
“The truth will not be silenced,” Greenberg said. “I will prove that the defendant had nothing to do with child murder.”
During a short break in court proceedings, St. Hubert’s mother wailed in the court halls in two languages.
Charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and weapon possession, St. Hubert faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted.
The trial is expected to last three weeks with testimony from eye witnesses, including Capers.
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