Graphic testimony in trial of man accused of grandmother's murder

Technology took jurors to the crime scene, in the murder trial of a Utica man accused of stabbing his grandmother and setting her West Street apartment on fire, back in January.

Posted: Oct 8, 2019 5:40 PM
Updated: Oct 8, 2019 6:12 PM

Technology took jurors to the crime scene, in the murder trial of a Utica man accused of stabbing his grandmother and setting her West Street apartment on fire, back in January.

Jurors on Tuesday heard the pleas of a dying victim, saw the tears of a tortured neighbor, powerless to help her, and, body-worn camera footage of the breathless police officer who refused to leave the bleeding, blistering victim to die in a burning living room.

"I could tell that her clothing was ripped, she was badly burned, I could see her skin was blistering. There was visible blood on her arms and on her face," said first-responding Utica Police officer, Zachary Ambrose, who responded to a call for a domestic dispute Jan. 20, on West Street.

"Hang on, honey. I'll get you. What's your name, honey?" the officer could be heard saying to the victim, on his body-worn camera footage, which played in the courtroom.

"Freddie McKinney!" cried the woman. She then went on to tell the officer that her grandson tried to stab her. Defendant, Andre Anderson, is McKinney's grandson.

It wasn't until after emergency responders took McKinney away on a gurney that Officer Ambrose realized he was covered in her blood.

"My entire uniform... shirt, my pants, my boots and my gloves had blood and skin on them," the officer testified Tuesday.

It was a frantic 911 call that brought police to the West Street apartment Jan. 20. The woman who made the call, upstairs tenant, Lakesha Lawson, testified Tuesday.

"I heard Freddie yell out and that's when I smelled the fumes and seen the light flickering from underneath the door," said Lawson.

Jurors also heard that 911 call, during which Lawson screamed, "she's in there on fire! She's burning!"

Lawson sobbed through parts of her testimony Tuesday, including when she recalled trying to open the door to McKinney's apartment before leaving the building with her baby daughter in her arms. The door was deadbolted. Lawson also recounted her final contact with defendant, Andre Anderson, before police arrived.

"I yelled to him and asked why did he do that and he looked back at me and he smiled and he pulled off."

Witness testimony resumes Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.

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