Relying mostly on a video taped statement that Patricia Cave gave to homicide detectives after her boyfriend, Lamont Warren, was stabbed in the heart, the government presented its case to a jury today, the first day of testimony in Cave’s trial on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.
“I have nothing to hide,” Cave says in the video. “I didn’t even know he was stabbed.”
Prosecutors say that Cave, who had a tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship with Warren, allowed him into her home the night of June 2 because he brought her cigarettes, beer and vodka. Prosecutor Charles Cobb told the jury in opening statements that those items were “the price of admission” for Warren, who had been ordered to stay-away from the apartment, to enter Cave’s home.
But from the defense table, Cave shook her head “no,” while Cobb told this to the jury and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue when Cobb told the jury that Cave had told Warren to go lie down on her bed in the one-bedroom apartment then, hours later, stabbed Warren while he lay flat on his back in that bed.
In the video-taped statement Cave told detectives that Warren wouldn’t move over to make room for her when she came to bed and that when she told him it was her bed he began berating her, leading to a physical altercation on the bed. During the fight she grabbed a knife from her nightstand, the two tussled, then Warren sat up and said that she had stabbed him.
A District medical examiner testified that Warren died of a stab wound to his chest. She said the blade was stuck three inches deep into his chest, striking his heart. He died of his injuries that day.
Cave’s attorney, Santha Sonnenberg, didn’t dispute that Cave stabbed Warren. But the stabbing, she told the jury, was in self-defense.
Sonnenberg said Warren, who had alcohol and cocaine in his blood at the time of his death, was also diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and, according a veteran’s hospital, had thought about killing people. She said according to his court records, he had assaulted a Prince George’s County police officer and, in Baltimore, dragged a woman down a flight of stairs and hit her with a belt.
A neighbor of Cave’s testified that she was aware of Cave and Warren fighting on three prior occasions and that she had seen bruises on Cave that she attributed to Warren.
Sonnenberg said Warren’s death was “tragic; as any loss of life is. But Ms. Cave only did as much as the law allows. She defended herself.”
Cobb rested the government’s case at about 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and the defense called one witness— the neighbor— before the court recessed for the evening. The trial is expected to resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday.