Woman Lucky to Be Alive, Doctors Testify in Attempted Murder Trial

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Two doctors testified Wednesday a 30-year-old woman was lucky to be alive after being stabbed 16 times, with one of the wounds resulting in injury to her aorta and a main vein in her chest area.

Racquel Truax of Cedar Rapids was breathing on her own when she was brought into Mercy Medical Center Oct. 14, 2011 but she was in critical condition with a slow heart rate and low blood pressure, Dr. Karl Anderson testified Wednesday during her ex-boyfriend's attempted murder trial.

Anderson said he was concerned about all of the stab wounds but he was most concerned with the aorta injury. Her right lung had collapsed and there were blood clots caused by "leaking" blood from the aorta.

Dr. Carlos Pelaez, a trauma surgeon with the University Hospitals and Clinics, said Truax had stab wounds to her head, arms, abdomen, chest, on both sides of her body and her back. 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.

Shaheed Pendleton, 33, of Cedar Rapids, is charged with attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury and assault to inflict serious injury (domestic assault). He is accused of stabbing Truax, in their home during an argument Oct. 14, 2011, while both were drinking and using drugs.

The trial is expected to go through Friday in Linn County District Court.

Tim Schemmel, Pendleton's attorney, on cross asked Anderson what was Truax's blood alcohol level and if that would affect her memory or recall.

Anderson said it was .317 percent, about four times the legal limit, which is .08 percent. He said her blood alcohol concentration level could have affected her memory but he didn't know if she had a history of being a heavy drinker. He has seen some people who are heavy drinkers and they function coherently.

Schemmel asked Palaez if a toxicology screen was performed on Truax and if drugs could affect her memory.

Pelaez said cocaine was in her system and alcohol. Cocaine can affect the brain and someone's behavior but he didn't think the medication she was taking in the hospital would.

Amanda Coiner, a UIHC emergency care nurse, testified she was "shocked" at 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.

Schemmel asked if it was possible that Truax didn't understand her question.

Coiner said she was asking Truax who stabbed her but said it was possible.

Earlier, Assistant Linn County Attorney Nic Scott said in his opening statement that Pendleton intended to kill Truax because he was jealous, angry, and had been drinking and using cocaine and ecstasy the day before the stabbing and the next day.

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

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 fell the blood leaving her body and she was in pain."

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

Schemmel in his opening said Scott left out the fact that Pendleton was also a victim. Two people were assaulted that day. He asked the jury to pay attention to the evidence and also "pay attention to what you won't see." Pendleton isn't the person who committed the stabbing, he said.
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