Doctors testify woman stabbed 16 times is lucky to be alive

Ex-boyfriend charged with attempted murder

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Update: Two doctors testified Wednesday afternoon that Racquel Truax was lucky to be alive after suffering a stab wound to her aorta and a main vein in her chest area.

Dr. Karl Anderson, with Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, said Truax, 30, was breathing on her own when she was brought into the emergency room but was in critical condition with a slow heart rate and low blood pressure.

She had multiple stab wounds but he was most concerned with the aorta injury. Her right lung had collapsed and she there were blood clots caused by "leaking" blood from the aorta.

Shaheed Pendleton, 33, charged with attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury and assault to inflict serious injury (domestic assault), is accused of stabbing Truax, his ex-girlfriend, 16 times, Oct. 14, 2011.

Testimony started Wednesday morning and the trial is expected to wrap up Friday.

Tim Schemmel, Pendleton's attorney, asked what was her blood alcohol level.

Anderson said it was .317 percent, about four times the legal limit, which is .08 percent.

Schemmel asked if her blood alcohol level would affect her memory or recall.

Anderson said it could but he didn't know if she had a history of being a heavy drinker. Someone who is could function coherently.

After emergency treatment at Mercy, Truax was airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for surgery.

Dr. Carlos Pelaez, a trauma surgeon at UIHC, said Truax had 16 stab wounds to her head, arms, abdomen, chest, on both sides of her body and her back. The aorta was the life-threatening injury but all of the wounds were of concern. Truax lost about four liters of blood from the stab injuries and the human body holds five liters, so her blood loss was critical. She would have died without the "intense surgery," he said.

Tim Schemmel, Pendleton's attorney, asked if a toxicology screen was performed on Truax.

Pelaez said the report showed cocaine in her system and alcohol.

Schemmel asked if the cocaine or the medication she was given could affect her memory.

Pelaez said cocaine can affect the brain and someone's behavior but he didn't think the medication would because when they remove the tube from her throat after surgery they want the patient to be alert and able to talk.

Amanda Coiner, a UIHC emergency care nurse, testified she was "shocked" how coherent Truax was the morning after her surgery. A tube was still in her throat but Truax communicated with her by writing a note.

Truax asked, "Does anyone know he did this to me?"

Coiner asked, "Who?"

Truax wrote, "Shaheed Pendleton."

After the tube was removed, Coiner asked who did this to her and Truax said it was Pendleton.

Earlier today, Assistant Linn County Attorney Nic Scott said in his opening statement that Pendleton stabbed his ex-girlfriend Racquel Truax 16 times, and intended to kill her, because he was jealous, angry and had been drinking and using cocaine and ecstasy that night.

Racquel Truax told police she and Pendleton started arguing the day before the incident, and the argument continued into the next day, while both were drinking and using drugs, Scott said. Pendleton locked Truax out of the house they shared in Cedar Rapids at one point, and also spit in her hair during the arguments. Pendleton became angry at Truax when she went out on the porch to take a phone call, then he became jealous when she talked to two men who came by.

Truax and her friend, who was also in the house, then saw Pendleton come towards Truax, swinging his arms at her, Scott said.

"This all happened very quickly," Scott said. "She didn't realize at first what happened to her. Then (her friend) saw blood coming down her arms. Racquel said she could tell the blood was leaving her body and she was in pain."

Scott said others were in the home during the incident and will testify during trial, along with a neighbor who saw Pendleton come out of the house into the back yard that day. The neighbor said she saw Pendleton, who had an odd look on his face, and was staring across the privacy fence. She said she asked him if something was wrong, but he didn't answer and just went back inside the house. Scott said the neighbor, who was standing close to him at the time,  didn't see any stab wounds or cuts on Pendleton.

After a few minutes, the neighbor walked around the block and came to the front of Truax's house and saw emergency workers taking Truax out to an ambulance, Scott said. The neighbor said she also saw Pendleton without his shirt on and she noticed cuts on his chest.

Scott said police asked Pendleton what happened, and he walked away from the officer and shrugged his shoulders. At the hospital, Pendleton told officers he knew who stabbed Truax but wouldn't identify the suspect, only saying it was a "black guy who looks like me."

Scott said after Truax was stabilized and while she had a tube down her throat, she wrote a note to the nurse, asking "Why did he do this to me?" The nurse asked her who she meant, and Truax said Shaheed Pendleton. When the tube was taken out, Truax again told the nurse it was Pendleton.

In his opening statement, Tim Schemmel, Pendleton's attorney, said Scott left out the fact that Pendleton was also a victim. Two people were assaulted that day, Schemmel said.

Schemmel said the medical reports aren't consistent with the injuries, and asked the jury to pay attention to the evidence and "pay attention to what you won't see." Pendleton isn't the person who committed the stabbing, he said.

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