Teen son of slain Pawcatuck woman testifies in murder trial
The 15-year-old son of Brandia Irvin, the 41-year-old Pawcatuck mother of two who police said was stabbed to death by her live-in partner, testified on Monday that he watched as the man he called his stepfather cut his mother’s neck with a knife.
The teen, identified only by his initials because he is a juvenile, took the witness stand in the murder trial of 47-year-old Carlton Henderson in an emotionally charged New London courtroom where family and friends of Irvin were at one point warned by a judicial marshal to refrain from commenting aloud or risk being removed from court. Several expletives were aimed at Henderson in anger during the course of the morning’s proceedings.
Irvin’s son testified that on the morning of Nov. 30, 2019, his mother had come into the room of his 77 Mechanic St. home asking if he wanted to go to McDonald’s. Minutes later, he testified his mother came into the bedroom but Henderson grabbed his mother in what he described as a chokehold. The teen was 12 years old at the time.
“(Irvin) was trying to calm him down. She was saying ‘let’s talk. You don’t have to do this.’ I was trying to process what was going on,” the teen testified under questioning from Assistant State’s Attorney Christa Baker.
After Henderson released his mother, the teen testified, the struggle “heated up again” and Henderson grabbed his mother around the neck while Irvin tried to fight him off. Henderson, he testified, took his phone away when he tried to call for help. In his statement to police, the teen said his mother told Henderson, “Wait, just let me hold my son.”
Henderson at some point produced a knife and stabbed his mother in the neck area, he testified. Irvin stumbled toward the front door with Henderson holding her by the hair. That’s when Henderson told Irvin, “It’s over, it’s over.”
The teen testified that he slipped out the front door and ran to his neighbor’s house to get help. He ended up at the home of Maria Torruella, whose son was his friend. She immediately called police.
“He came busting in through my back porch door yelling for some type of help,” Torruella testified. “He looked terrified, saying I needed to call police.”
Several people attending the first day of the trial were in tears as the prosecution played the conversation between Torruella and Stonington emergency dispatcher Michael Napolitano. Torruella can be heard in the call relaying questions from Napolitano to the teen. She learns of the stabbing during the conversation.
“Is he hitting her?” Torruella asks the teen.
“He stabbed her with a knife,” he tells Torruella.
“Are you freaking kidding me. Oh my (expletive),” Torruella responds.
Torruella was still on the phone with the dispatcher when police arrived. Later, Torruella said, she walked next door to find Irvin outside in the front of her home unconscious and lying in a pool of blood and being attended to by emergency medical responders.
Police said they found Irvin shortly after 8 a.m. on the ground next to the front steps of her home suffering from multiple stab wounds to her head and neck. Stonington police said Henderson nearly ran down two Stonington police officers as he made his getaway from the home.
Irvin was hospitalized in critical condition after the stabbing but died on Dec. 6, 2019.
During their investigation, police said, they contacted acquaintances of Henderson, one of whom told police Henderson was using “wet,” a combination of marijuana and PCP and had been behaving erratically and acting paranoid.
Charged with murder and risk of injury to a minor, Henderson faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted. He had previously rejected an offer of 35 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea that would have avoided a trial.
Among the people attending the trial were friends and family of Irvin, including her mother, Christina. Friends said the mother and daughter were the best of friends.
Irvin’s close friend Amy Rosado said Irvin was a Stonington High School graduate who worked at Washington Trust in Westerly, was fun to be around and was a mother to “two beautiful boys that were her world.”
Longtime friend Christina Johnson said Irvin had a calming manner about her and had been supporting Henderson at the time of her death.
Henderson has an arrest record dating back to 1994 that includes narcotics sales and was sentenced to three years in prison in connection with a 2003 armed home invasion in New London.
The trial is expected to last at least a week.
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