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1:39 AM Mon, Oct. 15th

Whiskey Row stabbing trial under way

Phillip M. Ewing

Phillip M. Ewing

A defense lawyer for a man accused of stabbing a store owner on Whiskey Row told a jury Wednesday that his client stabbed the woman but he didn't intend to kill her.

Phillip M. Ewing, 35, stabbed Tammy Camarot at her store, the Artrageous Gallery in the Hotel St. Michael's Alley shops, on Oct. 30, 2009, his lawyer, Robert Gundacker, said in his opening statement.

"This is a disturbing case," Gundacker said. But he asked the jury to "put aside its emotions" and "do complete justice." While conceding that Ewing could be convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and misconduct with a weapon, he implored the jury to acquit Ewing on a charge of attempted murder.

Ewing, who is mildly mentally retarded, suffers from mental illness and problems with alcohol, Gundacker said. Ewing "wanted to know what it was like to stab someone," Gundacker said. However, he did not believe that the place he stabbed Camarot, her lower back, would kill her.

"At no time did he say he wanted to kill anybody," Gundacker said. "It's a really bad, macabre aggravated assault."

Deputy County Attorney Keith Evans told the jury that Camarot was locking up her store when a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt approached her and asked to come in. She went back inside and turned her back to set down her keys on a counter when she felt "an intense sensation." She turned and saw her assailant leaving with a knife. Camarot managed to run to a nearby store for help before collapsing. While on the gurney, police showed her a suspect, and Camarot was able to say that person hadn't stabbed her.

Later, Camarot, an artist, drew a picture of the suspect for police, Evans said. About a week later, after an investigation, police went to Ewing's small apartment above a restaurant just down the street from the St. Michael. Inside that apartment, police found a knife and a calendar. On the square for Oct. 30 the words "stab woman" were written, Evans said.

Also, when Ewing called his aunt from the jail, he told her he stabbed someone and made similar confessions in letters to his father and friends, Evans said.

The trial before Superior Court Judge William T. Kiger will continue today.