Man to be tried in attack on 73-year-old neighbor

Posted: April 28, 2005

A 73-year-old great-grandmother testified yesterday that she could not believe the neighborhood man whom she paid to get her groceries and lottery tickets was the attacker who stabbed her dozens of times in her Strawberry Mansion home last year.

Bernice Gamble described how an intruder kicked open her bedroom door Sept. 27 as she slept. In the darkness, she said, she could not clearly see his face during the violent struggle but knew he wore a white T-shirt.

Assistant District Attorney James Lloyd told Municipal Court Judge Linda Anderson that DNA tests revealed that Gamble's blood was on Ricky Jones' shoe, jeans and T-shirt.

Anderson ordered Jones, 40, of the 3100 block of Euclid Avenue, to stand trial on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, burglary and related offenses. He is jailed without bail and scheduled to be arraigned May 18.

"I couldn't believe that he had done this to me. I watched him grow up with my children," Gamble testified, adding that she also paid Jones to do odd jobs at her home. "I was wondering: Why? Why would you do this to me?"

She began to weep as she described the attack in her home on West Wilt Street.

"I said: 'Who are you? What are you doing in my house?' . . . I started fighting back, but I didn't know he was stabbing me - I thought he was punching me."

Neighbors heard her screams and called police, but Gamble said the attack stopped only after she took a deep breath and pretended she was dead.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Scott DiClaudio asked Gamble why she initially told detectives that Jones was not the assailant.

"I know it wasn't Rick," DiClaudio read from a police interview taken from Gamble in her hospital bed shortly after the attack.

Gamble explained yesterday, "I didn't think it could have been him that did this to me."

Gamble testified that she was hospitalized for 1 1/2 months and no longer has use of her right hand because of injuries sustained during the stabbing.

A police officer testified that she found a bloodied white T-shirt inside a trash bag at the curb outside Jones' home shortly after the attack.

Detective Vanessa Brown testified that investigators found bloody jeans in Jones' home. When she interviewed Jones, Brown said, she noticed that one of the Puma sneakers he was wearing appeared to be blood-spattered, and she placed the shoes into evidence.

Contact staff writer Jacqueline Soteropoulos at 215-854-4497 or jsoteropoulos@phillynews.com.

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