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Stabbing victim takes stand

LIHUE — During an emotionally charged hearing Monday afternoon, an 18-year-old woman who said she was stabbed by her 33-year-old boyfriend described a heated struggle for the knife in fear that she’d be stabbed again.

Victoria Kanahele of Kekaha took the stand on the first day of the preliminary hearing for Christopher Cruz before District Judge Trudy Senda. Kanahele was the first and only witness to take the stand. The hearing was continued to Dec. 31 to allow testimony from three additional state witnesses.

Cruz is charged with attempted murder in the second degree for stabbing Kanahele in the right side of her stomach during an argument in front of their 2-year-old daughter.

First Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Winn questioned Kanahele about the events that unfolded on the afternoon of Dec. 6. During each question, Kanahele took a breath and slowly answered.

She said that on Sunday afternoon, she and Cruz were pulled over by a KPD officer for a traffic violation and stopped in the Ace Hardware parking lot in Eleele.

Through tears, Kanahele described how a fight began after police left because she was hiding the keys from Cruz. She said she didn’t want Cruz to drive because he was angry.

In a police report, Kanahele told police she had been arguing about “the traffic citations, their daughter, and other issues that they were having that day.”

Kanahele said Cruz told her that if she didn’t give him the keys, he would stab her with a knife. In the police report, she told police she didn’t believe him, “but knew he had his knife in the right pocket of his surf shorts.”

At one point during the hearing Cruz, wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting beside Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato, began crying.

In her testimony, Kanahele said that upon reaching for her bag on the driver’s side of the car, she heard a “clicking sound.”

“Did you know what that sound was?” Winn asked Kanahele.

“His pocket knife.” Kanahele said.

Kanahele said she recognized the sound from other times he’s used it. When she heard, she stood up, she said.

Suddenly, the knife was at the right side of her stomach and “blood was gushing out,” she alleged. He then pulled it out with his right hand and it fell to the back seat, she said.

“Was there a time that you were worried about being stabbed again? Winn asked.

“Yeah,” Kanahele said.

Both Cruz and Kanahele struggled to reach for the knife after he dropped it, she said. She said he was pushing her and telling her to get back in the car, all while holding their child with his left hand, she said.

When she eventually got the knife, Kanahele said she didn’t know what to do it with, so she threw it.

Police later found that knife about 20 feet from Cruz’s car in the dirt that Sunday afternoon, according to the police report.

After the fight, Cruz took off with their child toward the front of the Big Save with Kanahele behind, she said.

Kanahele said she went through the back entrance until she made it to the front.

Witnesses say they saw her sitting on the floor with blood running down her leg. One man called 911 and two other women reportedly helped her until medics arrived, according to witnesses.

Kanahele was 28 weeks pregnant at the time of the alleged stabbing. Doctors had to perform an emergency cesarean to try and save the baby’s life, according to a police report. The baby died after 30 minutes out of the womb.

In addition to the attempted murder in the second degree charge, Cruz is charged with kidnapping, abuse of family or household members, terroristic threatening in the second degree, reckless endangering in the second degree and driving without a license.

Three additional witnesses will testify at the end of the month including Detective Christian Jenkins, Kiana Tanaka, a witness at the scene, and Dr. Juliette Zelada, Kanahele’s physician at Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

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Michelle Iracheta, cops and courts reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or miracheta@thegardenisland.com. Follow Michelle on Twitter @cephira

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