Kingman stabbing case handed to jury
2/7/2014 6:00:00 AM
By Doug McMurdo
KINGMAN - Did a Kingman man armed with a knife attempt to murder three people in a bloody, jealous rage early one summer morning in 2012?
Or did the people Philip Steven Matwyuk stabbed multiple times lure him to the home and attack him?
That's the question a Mohave County jury will try to answer now that deliberations have begun in Matwyuk's trial on a dozen felony counts, including three for premeditated first-degree attempted murder.
Prosecutor James Schoppmann and defense attorney Randall Craig delivered closing arguments Thursday. Schoppmann said Matwyuk had murder on his mind. Craig said his client was simply defending himself.
Schoppmann told jurors Matwyuk was in a rage when he repeatedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Alicia Dena, her sister Kayla Gisewhite, and Michael Hennings at about 7:15 a.m. June 2.
The sisters each sustained several wounds, but Hennings came close to dying. He was stabbed twice in the neck and four times in the chest. Both his lungs were punctured
The Las Vegas doctor who treated his wounds told jurors that advanced life-saving procedures, including blood transfusions, had to be taken to save him.
Schoppmann also pointed out that all of the victims, including a babysitter who was at the home that morning, told police Matwyuk covered his face with a bandana, and that Hennings and Dena were sleeping when he went into the bedroom and attacked them with a knife.
Craig's counter-argument was that Hennings attacked Matwyuk and the women jumped in. He said his client felt threatened and wielded the knife indiscriminately, with no pattern or strategic intent.
Craig also questioned whether Matwyuk even had a bandana that day, and accused the victims of lying about virtually every aspect of the case. He said Matwyuk was there to pick up some of his belongings, and that he had no intent to harm anyone that morning.
But Matwyuk also told police that Hennings had a gun. No gun was found and there was no way for Hennings to hide one. He was slowly bleeding to death in the hallway, said Schoppmann.
And while Hennings was grievously injured and Dena and Gisewhite were incapacitated by their respective wounds, Matwyuk was virtually unharmed, his only injuries coming when he fell in the desert while hiding from police.
The circumstantial evidence against Matwyuk could sway jurors toward the state's case. He attempted to text or call Dena more than 50 times in just a few hours. The last call was made at 6:40 a.m., 35 minutes before the stabbings.
A neighbor saw Matwyuk "lurking around" the Gold Street home prior to the incident. He was reportedly banned from a bar the night before after getting into a heated confrontation with Gisewhite, who apparently taunted Matwyuk. He was upset over losing a job and a girlfriend in close proximity to one another.
But other circumstantial evidence could equally sway the jury toward the defense. The state alleges Matwyuk entered the home without permission, but police could find no evidence of a forced entry. Neither the bandana nor the knife was ever found. Matwyuk, said Craig, could have easily killed everyone in the home that morning if murder was indeed his motive.
He panicked and fled after the babysitter hit him in the face with a telephone because he knew the police were coming, said Schoppmann. He knew she had called 911.
The teenaged babysitter and two toddlers in the home were unharmed.