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NYC settles lawsuit after 11-year-old girl testifies about NYCHA murder

February 7, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mikayla Capers, 11, is flanked by her legal guardian and great-aunt Brigitte Capers (left) and great grandmother Regenia Trevethan (at right), as opening remarks are made in Capers’ civil trial against the New York City Housing Authority. Court sketches by Alba Acevedo

The family of Mikayla Capers, a little girl who was stabbed and witnessed a murder in a NYCHA elevator when she was 7 years old, settled their civil suit against the NYCHA on Wednesday morning after the now 11-year-old testified in court on Tuesday.

Terms of the settlement are confidential, but the attorney for the family said that they were very happy with the outcome.

“It was an excellent settlement, the family is thrilled,” said Elise Langsam of Langsam Law. “I am thrilled for them since it will take care of Mikayla for the rest of her life in terms of her physical problems, she’s going to need plastic surgery for the numerous stab wounds, and perhaps more significantly, for the PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] that will follow her for the rest of her life.”

Capers and Prince Joshua Avitto were 7 and 6 years old, respectively, on June 1, 2014 when they were attacked in the elevator of their East New York NYCHA building nearly four years ago by Daniel St. Hubert, according to court documents.

St. Hubert stabbed the two children in the elevator and then took off on foot, prosecutors alleged. Two witnesses who testified before a grand jury said they saw St. Hubert fall as he ran away. Police detectives said they recovered the bloody knife in the same spot witnesses saw him fall.

Six-year-old Avitto was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, but Capers survived with wounds to her chest and hands. Her attorney said that in addition to plastic surgery to repair stab wounds, Capers will need treatment for PTSD as well.

A criminal case against St. Hubert is expected to start in March, but the family sued NYCHA because, according to court documents, they charge that if the building had been in a state of good repair, St. Hubert would not have even been able to get onto the premises.

“It was very troubling that due to NYCHA’s negligence, the assailant was even able to enter the premises for this stabbing to happen,” Langsam said. “If NYCHA hadn’t been negligent, this wouldn’t have happened.”

According to court documents, the building’s door locks were broken and surveillance cameras were never installed.

The initial settlement offer was $550,000, according to a report by CBS New York. Capers’ grandmother Regenia Trevethan told CBS2 that the offer was a slap in the face.

Capers testified in the civil court trial on Tuesday and by Wednesday morning there was a more significant offer that was accepted.

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