A woman who was stabbed multiple times in an assault testified Tuesday that Elizabeth Nichole Rydall charged at her "like a windmill" that October night in a dark alley in west Medford.
Rydall, 19, is standing trial in Jackson County Circuit Court on charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault.
She is accused of stabbing Samantha Tasior, 30, at least eight times with a switchblade on Oct. 7, 2011, near Meadows Lane and Chestnut Street. (Correction: The date of the incident has been corrected in this story.)
Both women are transients with histories of drug use, the prosecution and defense told jurors during opening statements in Judge Tim Gerking's courtroom.
Prosecutor David Hoppe said Rydall was trying to kill Tasior. Hoppe showed the jurors photos of wounds to Tasior's neck, shoulder, chest, stomach, arm and leg. Tasior had to undergo exploratory surgery to her heart that night because doctors feared she had suffered internal injuries, he said.
Rydall used a knife on Tasior and "cut her up good," Hoppe said.
Defense attorney Christine Herbert countered that the wounds to Tasior cannot be assigned to her client. The two women fought, but it was Tasior who was the aggressor, and Tasior's boyfriend also jumped in the mix.
"Who really had that knife?" Herbert asked.
An emotional Tasior told jurors Rydall charged at her after she verbally confronted Rydall over an incident involving Tasior's 5-year-old son. Tasior said she did not know Rydall personally but had tried several times to engage Rydall in a conversation. Rydall, who had been living with the 5-year-old's father, had allegedly left drugs within reach of the boy, Tasior said.
"That is why I was upset with Lizzie and I wanted to speak with her," Tasior said.
When Rydall tried to call Tasior's ex on her cellphone, the verbal altercation became physical, Tasior said.
"Next thing I know she starts hopping up and down and comes at me like a windmill," Tasior said. "I had no idea I was being stabbed."
Tasior's boyfriend at the time, Cody Maudlin, testified he saw the two women grappling on the ground, then saw the glint of something shiny in the dark.
"Lizzie had a knife," Maudlin said. "I grabbed it from her."
As soon as Maudlin tossed the knife, Rydall's boyfriend charged and tackled him. Someone else broke up the fight between the two women.
Tasior said she knew she'd hit Rydall with her flashlight during the fight. But she initially denied her boyfriend's exclamations that she'd been stabbed. Once back in the house, however, Tasior realized the nature of her injuries.
"I look down and I have blood everywhere," Tasior said. "Sure enough, I've been stabbed."
Rydall and her boyfriend fled the scene of the attack. Tasior was taken to a local hospital. Medford police recovered the knife at the scene and put out a public plea for information leading to Rydall's whereabouts. Rydall was ultimately arrested at a Medford apartment after nearly four days on the lam.
"Lizzie was hiding under a heap of clothes and blankets," testified Medford police Detective Katie Ivens. "She had a laceration on her hand. She said that she was defending herself and that the victim had a flashlight and a knife."
Forensic experts testified the knife had both Tasior's and Rydall's blood on it. A man whom Rydall had lived with testified she had a knife, but he denied the knife in question was the one he saw in Rydall's possession.
Rydall has been lodged in the Jackson County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail since her arrest. The state rested its case late Tuesday afternoon. The defense will present its evidence today.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.