Kayleigh Ballantyne was looking over her shoulder at the man advancing toward her in the dark as she tried to enter her passcode to enter her Gates Street apartment. But the door wouldn't open — she had hit the wrong buttons. She punched the code in again. She thought she still had time.
She was wrong.
As Ballantyne finally opened her door, Edwin Alemany shoved her, knocking her onto the ground. Without a word, he began stabbing her, she testified Friday in Suffolk Superior Court, during Alemany's trial on charges of murdering 24-year-old Amy Lord and attacking Ballantyne and another woman.
"I saw the knife going into me," said Ballantyne, who suffered five stab wounds to her arm; two to her face; two to her torso; one to the top of her head; and a collapsed lung in the July 24, 2013 attack. "I never felt it."
Ballantyne was Alemany's final victim in a 20-hour spree that began just after 4 a.m. on July 23, 2013, prosecutors said. His former girlfriend also testified Friday, emotionally describing his erratic behavior in the midst of his alleged rampage, which only ended after he arrived with a slashed hand at the same hospital where Ballantyne was being treated.
Ballantyne survived after she screamed and kicked, alerting her neighbors, and Alemany fled, leaving her to crawl into her apartment for help.
Alemany's lawyer has indicated he will pursue an insanity defense, and did not contest Ballantyne's account. Attorney Jeffrey Denner questioned her very briefly, to establish that Gates Street was well lighted and populated, and that Ballantyne had not been robbed even though she offered Alemany her bag and phone. He also noted that Ballantyne incorrectly identified Alemany twice in a photo array.
Denner has attempted to portray Alemany as acting with sudden and irrational savagery, and on Friday morning, his former girlfriend Elizabeth Stephenson testified that Alemany had bouts of violence so intense, she could not control him.
Stephenson struggled to stay calm as she testified, but when Denner repeatedly asked about Alemany's volatile history, she began to weep uncontrollably.
"I just thought he had a drinking problem. I didn't know," she cried out. "When you love somebody, it's really hard to let them go. . . . It's not my fault."
The court was forced to take an early recess after Stephenson begged to be excused.
Stephenson told the court that Alemany came home drunk on the evening of July 23, after he had already allegedly beaten one woman, who survived, and killed Lord.
He allegedly kidnapped Lord as she was leaving her South Boston apartment early that morning and forced her into her black Jeep Cherokee at knifepoint. He then ordered her to take out $960 from five different ATMs around South Boston and Dorchester.
Lord's naked, battered body was found that afternoon at the Stony Brook Reservation in Hyde Park. She had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck, chest, torso, and pelvis. The gym leggings she had put on that morning were wrapped around her right leg.
Stephenson said that later that evening, Alemany was drunk but calm, bragging about money he claimed to have won through a lottery scratch ticket. He was a holding a brand-new cellphone and wearing new sneakers.
Stephenson recalled being furious with him — their 4-year-old daughter had an important doctor's appointment the following morning and she wanted him to be there.
Alemany, she said, threw the phone at her feet, smashing it.
"He just started yelling at me," Stephenson said, trembling and crying. "He said that I'm always accusing him of stuff. . . . Just started saying a lot of things that didn't make sense."
He charged into their daughter's room, waking up the child, Stephenson said. She testified that she grabbed her daughter and ran to her car.
"He scared me," she said. "I just drove."
During Denner's cross-examination, Stephenson became more and more agitated as Denner asked about their relationship.
"When we were together, he acted completely normal," she said. He was only verbally and physically abusive when he was drunk, she said.
Denner asked Stephenson if she knew of Alemany's psychiatric history, and she said she did not.
Stephenson said Alemany called her from the hospital the night of the attacks and asked her to pick him up, but she ignored his pleas, she said.
"I was done with him," Stephenson said.
While her testimony seemed to help Denner's contention that Alemany was a troubled man, she told the jury that she never saw him hallucinating or talking to himself.
When Stephenson left the stand, she refused to look at Alemany.
Stephenson did look at Lord's parents, who sat in the front row. As she walked past them, she mouthed, "I'm sorry."
Lord's mother, Cindy, nodded. Then she and her husband began to cry.