What caused chaotic Kingman attack - rage, or self-defense?

It was anger and jealousy, according to the prosecution

Philip Steven Matwyuk

Philip Steven Matwyuk

KINGMAN - Rage, anger, jealousy, control and obsession - those are what drove Philip Steven Matwyuk to enter a Kingman home in 2012 and stab three people multiple times, grievously injuring one of them, according to Mohave County prosecutor James Schoppmann.

During opening statements in Matwyuk's attempted murder trial Tuesday, his defense counsel, Randall Craig, countered that Matwyuk (pronounced mat-wee-uk) acted in self-defense, "pure and simple," and said the terrifying incident was the result of "multiple people making bad decisions."

Clearly, however, nobody made a worse decision than the defendant, who admitted that on June 2, 2012, he entered the home he and his former girlfriend Alicia Dena once shared at 727 Gold Street, about a mile from the downtown courthouse.

The breakup was recent and brutally unpleasant, according to both attorneys. Matwyuk had moved out about two weeks before.

The night before the incident, Dena, 31, and her sister, Kayla Gisewhite, 23, went to a local tavern. They left a babysitter, who is now 17, in charge of their children. Each had a 2-year-old at the time.

The women ran into Matwyuk at the bar and words were exchanged, said Schoppmann.

The sisters left the bar sometime after 1:30 a.m. and a friend, Michael Hennings, now 28, followed them to their home.

Shortly after 7 a.m., the babysitter was asleep on the couch with Dena's daughter. Gisewhite was in her own room with her son and Dena and Hennings were in the master bedroom.

Matwyuk, said Schoppmann, entered the home despite the fact the locks had been changed - Craig said someone let the man into the home.

Matwyuk told Kingman police investigators he walked into the master bedroom and "lost it" when he saw his former girlfriend in bed with Hennings, who was wearing pants while sleeping.

He said he grabbed a knife from the kitchen and told police his intent was simply to scare them, but they "freaked out" and he had to defend himself when attacked.

Schoppmann, however, pointed out both women had defensive wounds on their hands and arms from fighting with Matwyuk.

Hennings never had a chance. He was stabbed twice in the neck and several times in the chest. He had no defensive wounds because he was asleep when Matwyuk stabbed him.

Hennings also has a prosthetic leg, which could have impaired his ability to defend himself. He was in intensive care for several days, said Schoppmann, and nearly "bled out" in the hallway, where he crawled from the bed asking for someone to help him.

The babysitter testified she woke to the sound of Dena screaming and the sight of her covered in blood as she ran out of the master bedroom with Matwyuk in pursuit.

At about that time, amid the "chaos and terror," Gisewhite came out of her room. Matwyuk stabbed her as she tried to defend her sister.

The defendant reportedly threatened to kill her as he stabbed her.

While Craig will apparently mount a claim of self-defense, the babysitter said he took the time to cover his face with a green bandana and his hands with gloves.

Craig said there's much more to the story than what occurred on June 2, 2012.

He said Matwyuk was in love with Dena and had dreams of building a life with her, but the relationship went south. He said Dena belittled Matwyuk and was unsuccessful in her attempt to file a protective order against Matwyuk about two weeks before the attack.

Craig said his client was at the home on June 2 at 7 a.m. to pick up belongings. He said Matwyuk did not break into the home but was let in by someone already inside. The victims in the courtroom gasped and were obviously agitated when Craig said Matwyuk was allowed into the home.

Craig said Hennings jumped on Matwyuk and his client felt he had to defend himself with the knife he grabbed from the kitchen beforehand, "just in case he needed it."

The babysitter said she never saw what happened in the master bedroom, but she did say she heard him threaten to kill Gisewhite.

The babysitter was calling 911 when Matwyuk came after her with the knife. She said she threw the house phone and hit him in the face and he ran off.

She was unharmed.

The trial is expected to last until Friday.

The jury will have to render 12 verdicts - one for each charge Matwyuk faces, including three for attempted murder, eight for aggravated assault and one for burglary.