Trial began Wednesday for a Laramie resident accused of stabbing another woman in July, with the state calling several witnesses, including the victim, to testify.
Sydney Payton King, 22, faces a single felony charge of aggravated assault — bodily injury with a deadly weapon, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine upon conviction.
During opening arguments, Prosecuting Attorney Ava Bell said the state’s seven witnesses, which include Laramie Police Department officers, a Laramie Fire Department paramedic and eyewitnesses, would provide testimony showing King became angry, used racial slurs and stabbed the victim multiple times — once in each wrist and once in the stomach.
“We’ve all been in a situation where someone gets angry and takes things too far,” Bell said.
Defense attorney H. Michael Bennett told the jury his client acted in self-defense and was not guilty of aggravated assault, arguing King pulled out a knife while retreating from a woman who attacked, injured and pursued her.
“She had been attacked once and defended herself from another attack,” Bennett said of his client.
The victim, who identified herself as a small business owner living in Fort Collins, Colorado, testified she and her boyfriend traveled to Laramie on July 8, 2016, to attend the Jubilee Days festivities with their children. On July 9, she said, she and her boyfriend ran into one of her friends, Cassandra Hunter, at the Buckhorn Bar and they agreed to go to Hunter’s home along with two other male individuals.
Outside Hunter’s home, during the early morning of July 10, the victim said, her group encountered a group of three men, one of whom was “very agitated,” and an altercation eventually broke out among the men in the two groups. She said one of the men in the other group used a racial slur commonly associated with African Americans.
The victim said when she tried to get one of the men off of her boyfriend, the defendant jumped on her back, used the same racial slur, and the two women had an altercation.
“She was in a rage, extremely angry and seemed out of her mind,” the victim said of King.
The victim said she eventually sat on top of King, pinned her arms above her head and told her to stop. She said she slapped the defendant, who she said used the racial slur again, and slammed her head into the concrete.
Later, the victim said, the defendant said she had a knife and made a threatening statement, and she testified she dragged King away by her hair “to get her away from the situation.” The victim said she did not remember being stabbed specifically but recalled bleeding significantly from a cut artery in her right wrist.
“I was losing a lot of blood and I was crying and I was scared,” she said, later describing the incident as the most traumatic experience of her life.
Hunter and a third witness, Terrence Gadlin — another member of the victim’s group — testified they saw the victim and the defendant in an altercation, that the victim was bleeding profusely and that King and the other members of her group left the scene before police arrived. Hunter also said she heard King saying the racial slur multiple times during the fight.
Jurors also viewed footage of a police interview between Laramie Police Department Detective Josh Anderson and King, in which the defendant acknowledged she was involved in an altercation with another woman.
In the interview, King said she took her knife out because she was afraid, further stating she was walking away and told her friends to come with her.
“I don’t remember saying I was going to stab anyone,” she said.
Under Anderson’s questioning, King said she called the victim the “n-word” when she was on top of her and acknowledged cutting her “maybe twice.”
King was arrested and taken into custody after the interview, Anderson said.
The following day, Anderson said he and another officer went to King’s home and retrieved the knife she had described, a Smith and Wesson spring-assisted folding pocket knife, based on information she provided during the interview. There was no blood on the knife, he said, as King stated during the interview she had rinsed it.
“It was in the exact location she had specified,” Anderson said.