NEW YORK -- In her anguished final moments with her slain son, Karen Watkins sat alone next to his body in a small room at St. Vincent's Hospital and bade him farewell. "I told him how much I loved him," she told a riveted courtroom.
Courtroom spectators and two jurors wept with the mother of tourist Brian Watkins, 22, as she testified yesterday.
"I sat with my son to tell him goodbye," said Watkins, 47, drying her eyes repeatedly. As she spoke, one of the young men on trial, Emiliano Fernandez, bowed his head.
Like her husband, Sherwin, who testified Monday, Karen Watkins, a radiology technologist in Provo, Utah, said she was unable to identify any of the four defendants on trial as among the assailants who attacked her and her family on a subway platform Sept. 2, 1990. But during police lineups two days after the fatal robbery, she identified two of the men, according to law enforcement sources.
Although defense lawyers have suggested that their clients did not take part in the robbery, all four gave detailed videotaped confessions to prosecutors describing their roles in the crime. Those tapes will be played to the jury later in the trial.
Fernandez, Ricardo Nova, Johnny Hincapie and Pasqual Carpenter, all 19, all from New York, are each charged with felony murder and four counts of robbery. The alleged stabber, Yull Gary Morales, and three more young men are to be tried later.
Karen Watkins began crying minutes after taking the stand when lead prosecutor Thomas Schiels showed her a photograph of Brian. "That's my son," she said, struggling to hold back tears. "That's exactly how he looked."
During her two hours of testimony on the second day of the trial, Watkins told of a harrowing attack by a group of at least seven young men as she and her family, in town for the U.S. Open tennis tournament, waited for a train shortly after 10 p.m. Suddenly, she said, the group appeared and charged her and her family.
"I heard a yell. As I heard this yell, I saw a group of young men running toward us. They seemed to surround us so we couldn't leave," Watkins said. Then, she said, one shoved an orange-handled knife toward her and shouted, "Get back."
"I screamed. As I screamed, I looked up and I saw that there was another young man with a knife to my son's throat," Watkins said. "I turned to the stairs and yelled, 'Help!' Then I heard my daughter-in-law yell, 'Help!' "
Next, she said, a man grabbed her hair. "He grabbed it really hard and pulled it down and kicked me really hard in the face and in the chest. I was knocked back a little bit, and I saw stars."
As she regained her footing, she said, she noticed that Brian was crouching on the platform, surrounded by two of the assailants.
"I yelled at them to leave him alone," Watkins said. "They were forcing him down." She apparently did not know at that point that Brian had been stabbed.
She said she then heard several assailants yell, "We have it," and saw them dash up the stairs.