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Six New London teenagers were sitting around playing Xbox and watching a cop show on television on the last Friday in October when they decided to go out and jump somebody.
Something they saw on TV got them "hyped," and then Rahshad Perry dared Idris Elahi to stab somebody.
As Perry and Elahi moved to give each other "dap," a kind of handshake oath that only members of the Goon Squad gang are familiar with, two others, Tyree Bundy and Brian Rabell, tried to break them up.
"I didn't want what we were about to do to escalate to that level," Rabell testified Friday in New London Superior Court.
Within a short time, 25-year-old Matthew Chew would be lying on the side of the road, barely able to breathe and bleeding from stab wounds to the heart and small intestine. He was able to tell a passer-by that he had been jumped and stabbed, but he said little more before he succumbed to his injuries early the next morning.
A clearer picture of the events of Oct. 29, 2010, emerged in a packed New London courtroom Friday as the state called witnesses at a probable cause hearing for 17-year-old Elahi, who is accused of stabbing Chew with a folding knife during an attack on Huntington Street.
Six New London teenagers are accused of taking part in the apparently random killing that still has the community on edge. On Friday, three of them, Bundy and Rabell, who are 18, and 17-year-old Marquis Singleton, testified for the state with hopes of getting a better deal in their own cases.
Rabell admitted he was being a "follower when he should have been a leader" on that October night and issued an apology from the witness stand.
"I just want the victim and his family to know that I didn't intend on any of this to happen," he said. "I believe I did do wrong, so whatever consequences I get I deserve."
Before he was charged as an accessory to Chew's murder, Rabell, a 2010 graduate of Grasso Tech, had been accepted into the Marines. He said he would have "shipped off" on Jan. 10.
Families in attendance
Chew's parents, Rick and Marilyn Chew, and his siblings and family friends filled two rows of courtroom benches. Rick Chew wore a necktie with a collage of his son's paintings. Marilyn Chew wore a locket with pictures of her son as a smiling boy.
Family and friends of the defendants occupied another seven rows. Elahi's parents, Damita and Muneer Elahi, were allowed to sit directly behind their son because of his age. His twin brother sat several rows back.
According to the testimony, the six teens had gathered at Elahi's house on Home Street at 8 or 9 p.m. Elahi's bedroom was on the third floor and had a separate entrance.
Tyree Bundy was a senior at New London High School who said he was on target to graduate before his arrest.
"Something happened on the TV that made us want to go out and do something," Bundy testified. He could not recall what "cop show" they were watching.
The group headed downtown in search of a victim. Bundy said they saw people in Halloween costumes coming out of the Crocker House but decided to pass them by.
"They looked like they were having a good time, came from a party," Bundy said.
The group ran into a teacher from New London High School, who told them to "stay out of trouble."
They targeted one man as their victim but gave up on him when he climbed into a car.
Then they saw a man with a tan baseball cap walking alone on Huntington Street. Chew had clocked out from his cook job at 2Wives Brick Oven Restaurant a short time earlier. He lived less than a tenth of a mile away, at 73 Washington St.
Account of attack
The teens spotted Chew and then split up "in case he tried to run" when they attacked him, according to Singleton. Matias Perry asked Chew if he had a lighter and then hit him on the left side of the face when Chew reached into his pocket. Singleton then hit Chew on the right side of the face, he said.
Then, Bundy said, it was "everybody jumping on him pretty much."
Chew got up and ran back up Huntington Street, but Elahi "ran up on him and starting hitting him in the abdomen," according to Rabell, who said he didn't know Elahi had a knife.
During the attack, Chew was trying to break loose and run, Rabell said.
"He was all like, 'Why? What's going on? Why is this happening?' '' Rabell said.
The teens' individual testimonies differed slightly as they described their roles, and Bundy denied that he and his cousin, Rahshad Perry, had even laid hands on Chew.
Singleton said he went home and started crying because "somebody got hurt." He said he was unaware that someone had died until Matias Perry called him the next morning and said, "We caught a body."
Two nights later, on Halloween, the six defendants went trick-or-treating together on Montauk Avenue and talked about not saying anything about the attack, according to Singleton.
Also Friday, first responders testified. The prosecution played the 911 recording that brought police and rescue crews to the crime scene. On the recording, New London resident Shaun Smalley tells the dispatcher he just "rolled up" on Chew lying in the road near the intersection of Huntington and Jay streets and that Chew can't breathe.
"Does he know what happened?" the dispatcher asks.
"Do you know what happened, buddy?" Smalley asks Chew. Chew apparently speaks in the background, then Smalley tells the dispatcher, "He got jumped." A moment later, Chew could be heard on the tape, saying faintly, "I got stabbed."
Smalley tried to protect and comfort Chew until police arrived a minute later.
Paramedic Ameran Flynn said Chew was unresponsive when he arrived at the scene within six minutes of being dispatched by police. Chew was brought to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London.
"We regained a pulse at the hospital as soon as we pulled in," Flynn said.
Jonathan Aki, an emergency room physician, said he and others were able to stabilize Chew and decided that he should be airlifted to Yale-New Haven Hospital's trauma unit.
At Yale, surgeon Lewis J. Kaplan testified, he opened Chew's chest in the emergency room and worked on the heart injury because Chew was too fragile to move to the operating room. Doctors later moved the young man to the operating room, but after three hours they were unable to control his bleeding and pronounced him dead.
Kaplan said doctors may have been able to save Chew had he been closer to a level 1 trauma facility when stabbed.
The hearing is scheduled to resume Feb. 28, when the state expects to call one or two more witnesses in its effort to demonstrate there is enough evidence to prosecute Elahi for murder. The presiding judge, Patrick J. Clifford, will decide whether there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that Elahi probably committed the crime.
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