Takeout owner hurt in assault testifies from hospital bed

Jicun Wu, with wife Quihui Chen in October, was injured in a June attack outside his takeout.
Jicun Wu, with wife Quihui Chen in October, was injured in a June attack outside his takeout.
Posted: February 01, 2011

Lying in his hospital bed in a conference room at an Albert Einstein Medical Center rehab center, the frail owner of a Chinese takeout restaurant lifted his bone-thin arm and pointed at his accused attacker.

Municipal Judge Wendy Pew and two staffers had taken the subway up Broad Street to hold the unusual preliminary hearing in the makeshift courtroom for the man accused of attacking Jicun Wu.

By the hearing's end, Pew ordered Malik Niblack - who sat shackled in a wheelchair - held for trial for attempted murder as well as for previous aggravated-assault charges he faced in the attack outside Wu's West Oak Lane restaurant last June.

Wu, 43, had been rolled into the conference room in a hospital bed with an IV stand nearby. A nurse sat at a window behind him, and a courtroom stenographer sat at a table near the foot of the bed. A Mandarin translator stood by Wu's bedside for most of the hearing. Court hearings occur in city hospitals a handful of times a year.

Wu, whose ordeal was chronicled in a Daily News cover story about the dangers of owning a Chinese takeout in the city, suffered serious injuries to his stomach, pancreas and colon in the June 8 attack. A man came up from behind him and punched him in the head as he stood outside his Bo Shing takeout, on 66th Avenue near Uber Street, Wu said yesterday in Mandarin. He fell to the ground, then the attacker kicked him repeatedly in the stomach and back, Wu testified.

Asked whether the man who attacked him was in the room, Wu, who is on a feeding tube, lifted a frail arm from beneath his blanket and pointed directly at defendant Niblack.

Niblack, 21, sat at a table in the back of the room next to his public defender, Kimberly Gray.

"Yes, I saw him," Wu said. "When he hit me in the head, he pushed me on the ground. Then I turned and I see him. . . . He kicked me 10 times in the stomach and the back."

Niblack, who lives on Uber Street about a half-block from the restaurant, was arrested in October. He sat quietly throughout as two sheriff's deputies and the chief of Einstein's security department stood behind him.

Until yesterday, Niblack faced only aggravated-assault and related charges. But at the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Gauri Gopal asked Pew to add the charge of attempted murder.

"These were serious injuries," Gopal said. "He wasn't kicking him in the arms or legs. He kicked him in the stomach and caused serious damage to vital organs."

The judge agreed.

Gray repeatedly questioned how Wu could have known it was Niblack who kicked him when he was attacked from behind, but Wu consistently answered that when he fell, he turned and recognized Niblack, who frequently came into the store.

Gray asked Wu if he had identified Niblack because of an argument over correct change they had in the store a few weeks before the attack.

"Did you identify the man who hit you or who gave you a hard time in the store?" Gray asked.

Wu responded: "I identified the person who hit me."

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