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Trial for man accused of knife slaying begins

A vivid picture of Scott ‘Scotty’ Cole’s final moments lying unconscious in a puddle of his own blood after being stabbed 35 times last summer was presented during the first day of Rashawn D. Williams’ trial in Lycoming County Court.

First Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade accused Williams, 26, of “overkill” in the slaying of 36-year-old Cole at about 1 a.m. June 22, 2017, in the 300 block of Locust Street.

“He’s killing me,” Cole allegedly said during the incident, according to Wade.

Cole was pronounced dead at UPMC Susquehanna by the coroner.

Forensics evidence indicated Cole had suffered 35 stab wounds. Some stab wounds were penetrated twice, Wade said. Blood was in pools, splattered on buildings, plastic chairs and on a manhole cover in the middle of the street.

Cole and Williams’ romantic relationship had deteriorated prior to the incident, Wade said, acknowledging that prior to the attack, Cole had ingested cocaine, methadone, amphetamines and alcoholic beverages. The intoxicants were found in his blood and played a factor in Cole’s inability to defend himself, Wade said.

When they arrived at the scene, police discovered a bucket of bleach and water in Williams’ apartment in an attempt to clean up the weapon. There were more than 29 areas where blood was either noted or collected, Joseph Ananea Jr., a forensics officer with city police, said during testimony.

“Williams killed Cole intentionally,” Wade said.

Although Williams isn’t disputing he killed Cole, whether or not it was premeditated is up for the jury to decide.

“We all have sympathy for Cole and his family,” Nicole Spring, county first assistant public defender, said. “Williams killed Cole,” she said, adding no doubt about who committed the crime. But Spring will spend the next few days revealing holes in civilian witnesses’ credibility through various statements, text messages and other evidence to prove the homicide was not premeditated, she said.

Cole’s mother and father also were brought in as witnesses Monday.

Donna Cole, his mother, was first to the stand. In between tears, she said her son was living at 725 Wilson St. near Washington Boulevard at the time of his death.

Scott Cole had just had his 36th birthday and the last time the two spoke was the morning before his death.

“Scotty was openly gay,” Donna Cole said. He wore lipstick and women’s fragrance and often a women’s shirt. He carried pepper spray for protection and his mother said she was aware of his methadone use.

Scott Cole’s father, Rick Cole, pointed out a black bag and aqua colored shirt his son wore. Wade showed Rick Cole a photo of his son wearing the shirt and he wiped tears from his eyes.

Beth Luckner was outside on her porch on nearby Grace Street watering plants when she testified of hearing, “He’s killing me.”

Luckner said she ran toward the voice and was met about the same time by her neighbor, Travis McCarty. They both saw Cole’s body.

“I saw blood everywhere,” Luckner said. She then called 911.

The recording of her and the dispatcher was played for the jurors.

Luckner testified she heard McCarty yell, “Hey stop,” to a black man running from the scene toward an apartment.

Under cross-examination by William J. Miele, chief public defender, Luckner said she didn’t know Cole and had not seen him before in the neighborhood.

It also was dark on the street and Luckner agreed she “searched for the voice that was screaming,” after Miele gave her a chance to read back statements she provided to police.

John Miller testified he was doing outdoor maintenance on a neighbor’s yard when he heard the screaming. He said he heard, “Stop it. You’re killing me.”

Miller said he looked and saw “shadows” and one man appeared to be swinging at another beneath him.

City police Sgt. Marlin Smith said he arrived on the scene a minute after the call came out. He saw a white man in the street bleeding and rendered aid.

Smith said two other officers had a male suspect at gunpoint at the back of an apartment and he observed a cellphone on the ground outside.

On cross-examination, Smith told Miele that police found two small children in the apartment who were sleeping and that the area outside where the body was was “extremely dark.”

Other police officers also testified to similar activity that morning.

McCarty, the neighbor who ran to the scene, said he has suffered from seeing the last moments Cole was alive.

“I can’t shake the image,” he said. “I see his eyes. All day long, I think about it.”

The trial continues today and is scheduled to last until Friday.

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