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Survivor of brutal beating recalls beginning of attack

A 52-year-old woman who was stabbed and left for dead in her West Utica Street home last July told jurors Tuesday how she crawled to her bedroom to call 911 and save herself.

A recording of Colleen Murray's five-minute 911 call was played in State Supreme Court.

"I got beat," a dazed and bleeding Murray told the 911 dispatcher of the predawn attack. "Oh, my God! I'm dying. Help me."

Murray's throat was slit only hours before she was to testify against two men who were arrested for breaking into her home and stealing her car the previous month.

The brutality and callousness of the July 18 attack shocked even seasoned prosecutors.

She had puncture wounds on the right side of her body.

She was stabbed three times in the chest.

Fifty-four facial bones were broken.

Stitches were needed to close two stab wounds on her face.

Her right eye was swollen shut for a month.

She suffered a collapsed lung.

When police officers arrived, they found her bleeding and sprawled across her bed.

Authorities have charged two men in the incident: James Blair, 21, and Lincoln A. Black, 28.

Blair's attempted-murder trial opened Tuesday before Justice Penny M. Wolfgang. Black's trial has not been scheduled yet.

Blair faces first-degree attempted murder and first- and second-degree burglary charges.

Murray was attacked with a kitchen knife and garden sheers, and her attackers tied her hands behind her back and bound her feet. One of the attackers demanded the PIN number for her debit card.

"This better be the right one!" Murray recalled one of her attackers shouting.

The attacker also said, "Don't look at me! Don't look at me!" according to the victim.

Before leaving her, the intruders piled blankets, a vacuum, a fan and two chairs on top of her body, prosecutors said.

She lay dying on her dining room floor, and her attackers stole a jar of loose change, a box fan and two cordless phones, prosecutor John P. Feroleto said during his opening statement.

Blood was splattered on three walls, Feroleto said.

Murray was scheduled to appear in City Court later that day to testify against Blair and Black, who had been arrested for stealing her car and household items the previous month.

"She never made it to court that day," Feroleto said.

Shortly after responding to the crime scene, Police Officer Scott Blesy said, he looked for her red Alero in the driveway and discovered it missing.

After the car's description was broadcast to other officers, police found it later at Black's home, where they arrested Black.

Blair eluded capture, but he was arrested the following month.

At the crime scene, police recovered a bloodied T-shirt that prosecutors say belongs to Blair. The shirt is stained with her blood and has his DNA on it, Feroleto said.

"It's an awful lot of circumstantial evidence," defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova said of the prosecution's case.

"None of it is airtight," Terranova told jurors during his opening statement. "None of it is beyond a reasonable doubt."

"I'm not discounting what happened to her," Terranova said of the victim. "It's terrible."

But Terranova pointed out to jurors that Black wasn't in the courtroom.

"My client didn't commit this crime," Terranova said. "If anybody did, Lincoln A. Black did."

Murray said she could not identify who struck her from behind in her dining room at about 5 a.m. as she was returning to her bedroom after smoking a cigarette.

She said she noticed a black man standing in the corner of the room.

"The next thing I know I feel something hit me in the head and I was on the ground," she testified.

She remembered trying to get up and then being threatened not to look.

"I'm not looking. I'm not looking," she recalled saying.

She said she has no memory of being stabbed.

"I remember at some point crawling on my hands and knees -- I have to say, by the grace of God -- to my bedroom," she said during questioning from prosecutor Michael P. Felicetta.

She reached the bedroom and called 911.

She told the dispatcher that her attacker might be a man she had previously lodged charges against.

"You never saw James Blair?" Terranova asked her during cross-examination.

"I can't say for sure," she replied.