Police, medical staff and witnesses testify at New London murder trial

New London police Detective Richard Curcuro had to work fast to document an outdoor crime scene in the aftermath of an Oct. 24, 2017, stabbing at 49 Blackhall St.

It was raining intermittently, and Curcuro needed to photograph the blood on the second-floor landing of a green metal fire escape before it washed away. 

Curcuro, who processed both the interior and exterior crime scenes, began testifying and narrating a crime scene video late Thursday, the third day of the murder trial in Superior Court of 48-year-old Metese Hinds.

Inside the apartment, Curcuro said he found blood-smeared carpets and walls, bloody shoe prints and a bloody knife on the kitchen floor.  

While he worked, about a mile and a half mile away at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Dr. Nicholas Miller and other emergency room staff tried to stabilize 25-year-old Raheeim General, who had multiple stab wounds and was vomiting blood. Despite their efforts, he went into cardiac arrest and was declared dead, according to Miller's testimony Thursday.

Elsewhere in the L+M emergency room that night, New London police Detective Sgt. Cornelius Rodgers was interviewing Hinds, a stocky man who had been staying on Blackhall Street. Hinds, who had two puncture wounds on the back of his legs, had been combative and aggressive with medical staff but calmed down enough to talk to Sgt. Rodgers, whom he knew.

Witnesses to the stabbing had told police that Hinds — whom they knew by several names, including Amir, Smooth and Ock — had "bugged out" and viciously stabbed "Rah" General on the fire escape. Though the men had been drinking shots together earlier in a third-floor apartment, Hinds allegedly retrieved a kitchen knife from the second-floor apartment where he was staying with Cody Lewis, and stabbed General repeatedly.

Hinds' blood alcohol concentration at the hospital was 0.22%, which is nearly three times the legal limit for driving, and he tested positive for opiates, marijuana and cocaine, according to L+M emergency room physician Sarah Bitell.

Jurors heard a recording of Rodgers' interview with Hinds. Though it sounded like he was crying when he insisted that the "black man" he fought with had "touched a baby," Rodgers said Hinds was actually just "making crying noises."  

The baby he referred to was General's god-daughter, according to earlier testimony, and the child's mother, Jackie Lopez, was one of General's best friends.

Called to the witness stand on Wednesday and Thursday, Lopez and another friend, Justice Rodriguez, testified that they were drinking together in the third-floor apartment at 49 Blackhall when Hinds, who was staying on the second floor, knocked on the door and asked if he could have a shot.

Lopez said she told the three men to leave after they began arguing.

Rodriguez faces unrelated assault and weapons charges and testified as part of an agreement with the state in which he will avoid prison if he cooperates fully. He said on the witness stand that before General was stabbed, he and Hinds had exchanged punches on the second-floor landing of the fire escape, and that Hinds had run into the apartment and come out swinging a knife at him. Rodriguez said he ran up to the third floor to get a knife "to protect myself," when another man called him back down to the second floor.

General was sitting on the fire escape landing, and at first it looked like he was drunk, Rodriguez testified. He said he took another look, realized General had been stabbed, and started crying. He ran to a nearby apartment for help.

Other witnesses over the past two days described their own impressions of the crime on the witness stand. 

Isaiah Brown, visiting a friend on Blackhall Street at the time, said he saw Hinds attack General with an upward motion. "I was very shocked, at a loss for words," Brown said. "I've lived in New London all my life and never seen anyone get killed before." 

On Wednesday, Judge Hunchu Kwak excused a juror from service after the juror notified the court that he recognized witness Brown as soon as he walked into the courtroom. He said his mother and Brown's grandmother are sisters. The attorneys for the state and defense agreed it would be best "out of an abundance of caution" to remove the juror and replace him with an alternate.

The state's witnesses will continue to testify when the trial resumes Friday.

k.florin@theday.com

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