Prosecutors say Antoine Little stabbed 53-year-old James Eric Cain five times after Cain called Little a “fake Muslim.” But in opening arguments Thursday, Little’s defense attorneys say that Little saw a “frenzied look” on Cain’s face that day and knew his life was on the line.
“Imagine a 265-pound, six-foot-three-inch Cain, drunk and high on cocaine, steaming mad and charging straight at you,” defense attorney Andrew Crespo told jurors in opening statements.
Police found Cain on June 25, 2012, in the 1500 block of Kenilworth Avenue Northeast suffering from five stab wounds, including one to the throat that perforated his jugular vein. Little, 36, is charged with second-degree murder while armed and carrying a dangerous weapon in connection with Cain’s death.
Assistant United States Attorney Gary Wheeler told jurors that Little was the man who turned a verbal altercation into a physical one when he got out of his car and pushed Cain during an argument.
“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that at the time [Cain] was stabbed, he was engaged in an argument with the defendant,” Wheeler said. “If it was not for the defendant jumping out of the car this would have never happened.”
According to Wheeler, Cain started the verbal altercation because he was offended when Little did not give him a proper Muslim greeting and called Little a “fake Muslim.”
That argument may have been “loud and vulgar,” Wheeler said, but it was “just verbal.”
But two eyewitnesses expected to testify — Little’s wife and Cains’s wife — described the events before the stabbing differently.
According to charging documents, one witness told police Little first produced a knife before Cain went to a nearby bush and picked up a three foot metal pipe that was sharpened at the end, like a spear.
The other witness told police that Cane started swinging at Little first. Then, Little took out his knife, pulled Cain close, and stabbed him until Cain stopped charging at him, said the witness.
According to Crespo, who argued Little never pushed Cain to start, Little stopped defending himself as soon as Cain stopped charging.
The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.