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Slain Tourist’s Mother Testifies

October 29, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ A sobbing Utah woman testified Tuesday that she rushed to a hospital to comfort her mortally wounded son after a gang attacked the family on a subway platform, but she arrived too late to do anything but say goodbye.

Karen Watkins, 47, was the second family member to testify about the Sept. 2, 1990, attack in Manhattan’s theater district. Eight young men were charged with murder and robbery; the trial of the first four began Monday.

Mrs. Watkins’ husband, Sherman, 47, wept during his testimony Monday. He recalled how he gave his son a final blessing at the foot of a stairway, blood pouring from a wound in his chest, for fear his son would not survive.

Mrs. Watkins began crying as she recounted her visit to St. Vincent’s Hospital and her request to see her 22-year-old son.

″The doctor walked out,″ she said. ″He called Sherm to the side and I heard him say Brian was dead when he arrived at the hospital.″

When she was allowed to see Brian, ″I went in and said I wanted to tell him how much I loved him,″ Mrs. Watkins told the jury. ″I sat with my son to tell him goodbye.″

Justice Edwin Torres passed Mrs. Watkins a pack of tissues. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Schiels told her to take her time.

The family, on its fifth annual trip from Provo, Utah, to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament, was waiting for a subway train and reviewing the day’s tennis matches. They were going to dinner when the gang struck.

″As we were standing there, I heard a yell. I looked up and saw a group of young men running toward us. As they ran closer, they seemed to surround us,″ Mrs. Watkins said.

One menaced her with a 1-inch, orange razor-edged box-cutter.

″I screamed, out of natural instinct,″ she said. ″As I looked up, I saw another young man who had a knife to my son’s throat. I saw another group of young men around my husband.″

″As I yelled for help, someone grabbed my hair. They grabbed my hair and pulled my head between my legs and kicked me in my face and chest. I was knocked back a little bit and saw stars.″

″They had my husband on the ground and I yelled at them to get off him, too. Just as I yelled, one of the young men yelled that they had it, and ran upstairs,″ she said, meaning money from her husband.

Brian tried to chase them. His brother, Todd, yelled to let them go.

Suddenly, Todd shouted that Brian had been stabbed and needed help.

On Monday, Watkins said his dying son asked him: ‴Why did they do this to me? We’re just here to have a good time.‴

The defendants told police they went hunting for victims to get money to go to a nearby dance hall, but never planned murder. The alleged stabber, Yull Gary Morales, 19, said Watkins ″accidentally fell on my knife.″

Morales is scheduled to be tried in the second group of four.

The first four defendants - all 19, all from Queens - are Pascal Carpenter, Johnny Hincapie, Emiliano Fernandez, and Ricardo Nova. All have admitted roles in the attack. They are charged with felony murder and face up to life in prison if convicted.