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Slain Tourist’s Mom Testifies: ‘They Seemed to Surround Us’

October 29, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ A tearful Karen Watkins testified today that a group of youths ″seemed to surround us″ in a nightmarish subway attack that led to the death of her son, Brian.

Mrs. Watkins, 47, a radiology technician, was the second family member to testify about the Sept. 2, 1990, attack on the Utah family. Like her husband, Sherman, who testified Monday, she cried frequently.

They said Brian, 22, collapsed after chasing a gang of young men who had just attacked and robbed their family as the group waited for a train in a midtown Manhattan station.

″As we were standing there, I heard a yell,″ Mrs. Watkins said. ″I looked up and saw a group of young men running toward us. As they ran closer, they seemed to surround us.″

One of them menaced her with a 1-inch, orange box-cutter.

″I screamed, out of natural instinct. As I looked up, I saw another young man who had a knife to my son’s throat. I saw another group of young men around my husband.″

″As I yelled for help, someone grabbed my hair. They grabbed my hair and pulled my head between my legs and kicked me in my face and chest. I was knocked back a little bit and saw stars.″

″They had my husband on the ground and I yelled at them to get off him too. Just as I yelled, one of the young men yelled that they had it, and ran upstairs,″ she said, meaning money from her husband.

Brian tried to chase them, and suddenly his brother, Todd, shouted that Brian had been stabbed and needed help, she said. Brian was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

On Monday, Sherman Watkins said his dying son asked him: ″Why did they do this to me? We’re just here to have a good time.″

Watkins recalled how he gave his son a final blessing at the foot of the subway station stairway, blood pouring from a knife wound in his chest.

The family had come to New York from Provo, Utah, to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

Eight young men were charged with murder and robbery in the attack on the family. They are being tried in two groups of four.

The defendants in the first trial are Pascal Carpenter, Johnny Hincapie, Emiliano Fernandez, and Ricardo Nova, all 19. They told police they went hunting for victims to get money to go to Roseland, a nearby dance hall, but didn’t plan to kill anyone.

Yull Gary Morales, 19, the alleged stabber, will be tried with the second group. He told police that Watkins ″accidentally fell on my knife.″

Under state law, those who take part in a crime where someone is killed can be charged with felony murder.

All eight face up to life in prison if convicted.

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