Wichita police Officer Dustin Meier had been following a trail of blood from Boston Sicard, as he lay dying in the parking lot of a convenience store, toward an apartment complex. There, Meier saw a woman sitting, staring blankly.
Meier stopped to talk to the woman, who said her roommate had been in a fight. It was after 4 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2010, and Nika Cook later said she’d seen her roommate, Catie Collins, walk into the studio apartment they shared covered in blood.
Tuesday morning, as Cook took the stand in Collins’ second-degree murder trial, she admitted her memory had been shrouded by alcohol at a party. Cook remembered being so drunk that she had to be carried by one of her male friends out of the party, then into the apartment near the corner of Central and Ridge Road in west Wichita. She went to sleep.
From the witness stand, Cook said she woke up to find Collins storming into the apartment, pounding on the door and knocking stuff over, as she went to the kitchen for a knife. Cook remembered Collins returning to the apartment with blood on her hands. Another woman, Kati Owens, followed her into the room, screaming.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Prosecutors say Collins intentionally killed Sicard that morning by stabbing him in the shoulder. Sicard, 20, left the trail of blood as he stumbled out of the apartment complex and collapsed in the convenience store parking lot. Collins’ defense says she was protecting herself, after Sicard jumped her, choked her until she couldn’t breathe and left her with bruises on her face.
Cook’s testimony Tuesday conflicted what she told police the morning after Officer Meier found her sitting on the sidewalk near the apartment complex.
"I saw blood and I didn’t want to stay there,” Cook told the jury, of the blood covering Collins. “I just walked out, shut the door and sat down on the sidewalk a couple of doors down."
But that morning, Cook didn’t tell detectives about seeing Collins retrieve the knife. On the witness stand, she said Collins spent four to five minutes inside the apartment before leaving with the knife.
"I was really drunk that night. I do remember things now,” Cook told Collins’ lawyer, Laura Shaneyfelt, on cross-examination.
“But you’re telling us that today, because that’s what really happened, aren’t you?” prosecutor Trinity Muth asked.
“Yes,” Cook said.
Cook also remembered one of the women saying that Collins stabbed Sicard because he had been choking and beating her.
Shaneyfelt told jurors in her opening statement that Collins had a history of mental disorders and abuse, including being raped. That led Collins to act the way she did, when Sicard choked her, Shaneyfelt said. Collins meant to protect herself, Shaneyfelt said, not intending to kill him.
Muth said that Collins had time to think about what she was doing before taking the knife and plunging it into Sicard’s shoulder outside her apartment.
Sicard stumbled away from the apartment complex.
Jason Harman was driving with friends back from a night at a casino in Oklahoma, he testified, when a woman in the car said she saw somebody in the parking lot of the Valero at Central and Ridge. Harman said he drove through a pawn shop lot and pulled up near the convenience store. He saw a man in a pool of blood, clutching a cellphone.
"Oh, my God, I think he’s dead," Harman remembered telling his friend.
Collins and Owens drove to Derby, where they told two of their friends what had happened. Collins told Adam Cortelyou and Brian Rau that Sicard had attacked her. They didn’t believe her.
“I said that didn’t sound like Boston,” Courtelyou testified. “That made her angry.”
But both Courtelyou and Rau noticed the bruises on Collins’ face. Rau told police Collins looked like she’d been roughed up pretty bad, he remembered Tuesday.
Collins returned to her apartment and surrendered to police.
Owens, who witnessed the stabbing, is set to take the stand Wednesday, as the trial resumes before Sedgwick County District Judge Ben Burgess.
Watch Twitter for live coverage throughout the day.