Videos show subway platform stabbing
OAKLAND (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing a young woman on a California subway platform were shown video Wednesday of the attack that also injured her sister.
The surveillance video from the July 2018 attack drew gasps as friends and family of 18-year-old Nia Wilson wept in a packed Alameda County courtroom during opening statements.
John Lee Cowell, 29, followed the women from a Bay Area Rapid Transit platform onto a train for a 30-minute ride to a transfer station, then stabbed them when they were boarding another train to their destination, Deputy District Attorney Butch Ford told the jury.
Videos showed Cowell tailing the women and removing a knife hidden in his pants in the attack that killed Wilson and wounded her 26-year-old sister, Letifah Wilson.
Ford showed other video that he said showed Cowell trying to flee with passengers in the chaotic aftermath of the assault and purposefully misdirecting officers. The prosecutor argued the attack was carefully planned, showing Cowell changing clothes he kept in a backpack that was tossed, along with the knife, at a nearby construction zone.
Cowell has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder with the special circumstance allegation that the stabbings were committed intentionally by lying in wait. His attorney, Christina Moore, said the killing was a “rash act” fueled by psychosis because of Cowell’s severe mental illness.
Cowell, a transient with a history of violence and mental illness, was taken from court earlier Wednesday after he disputed Ford’s presentation to the jury. He was allowed back for the beginning of Moore’s statements but didn’t return after a lunch break. Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer told jurors to disregard Cowell’s outburst and absence from the courtroom.