AUBURN — A trembling Kellie Cardona testified Monday that the man she was engaged to marry beat her head against their kitchen floor and counter, held a knife to her throat and stabbed her after she fled from their new home last summer.

It was the first day of the Androscoggin County Superior Court trial of Eric Griffey, 45, of 27 Clover Lane, who is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, threatening with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence assault. A charge of elevated aggravated assault was dismissed Monday by prosecutors.

Cardona, who had been with Griffey for eight years, took the witness stand for more than two hours, taking deep breaths and speaking slowly and deliberately.

She described the evening she returned home from work July 19, 2016, anticipating a night of arguing.

“Eric was always angry with me for something,” she said of their relationship last summer. “I felt he started to lose trust in me.”

She said he had recently begun to accuse her of infidelity with the coach of her older son’s Little League team.

“Anything I said, he just never believed,” she said.

As she drove home from her job in Portland, she told him she didn’t want to spend another night fighting, she testified. His response was: “‘This one’s going to be fun,'” she said.

When her father left their home that evening, Griffey began to grill Cardona about her relationship with the baseball coach. He asked her how far she would be willing to go to ensure that her son was chosen to pitch at a game, a question she interpreted as being of a “sexual nature,” she said.

“Eric was obsessed about this,” she said.

Their 5-year-old son, who was home at the time, tried to defuse the situation by shushing the couple, then went to his bedroom, she said.

Then Griffey grabbed Cardona’s arm, near the elbow, pressing his thumb so hard it left a long bruise. She told him he hurt her and put an ice pack on the injury. She then went to their son’s room.

Griffey came into that room, continuing to argue, she said. She left the room and told Griffey to leave the house.

He refused.

At that point, she said, “his eyes went black.” There was “no light” in them, “no goodness. He was just so mad.”

He tackled her to the kitchen floor and grabbed her by the hair on the back of her head. He began banging her head against the floor “a lot,” she said. Police would later identify the spot through photos that showed blood and hairs.

She realized she was hurt when her fingers came away bloody after touching her forehead, she said.

Griffey screamed at her: “‘How could you do this? Why did you do this?'” she said.

He head-butted her, then banged her head against the kitchen countertop, she said.

“I was very disoriented,” she said. “Everything was very blurry, foggy.”

He pushed her into a corner of the kitchen counters, pulled a kitchen knife and held its blade to her throat, she said.

“He told me we were both going to die today,” she said.

She said she begged him to stop, that she didn’t want to die. She grabbed his wrist with “all of my strength” to hold the knife back. She begged and cried, telling him to stop. She said she was thinking that she was going to die and her children would be motherless, she said.

She told Griffey they had to check on their son in his bedroom to make sure he was OK. Griffey relented, freeing her hair and removing the knife, she said.

She went to the bathroom to clean herself up, noting her bloody face and her hair red from her blood.

She realized there was no way she would be able to clean up enough to have her son see her that way. Griffey followed her into the bathroom, went to the open window and scanned the exterior, she said.

He told her to close the window, then started yelling that she was breaking up their family. She told him they could get help, but he said there was no help for them. He put the knife to his neck and threatened to kill himself. She could hear their son crying and talked Griffey into going to him.

As soon as he left the bathroom, Cardona fled the home, running down the front lawn and across the street, she said. She remembered thinking that Griffey was going to kill her if she didn’t leave the house, she said. She screamed for help when she got to the street. When she glanced back, she could see Griffey had pursued her. She ran to a truck coming down the street. Then Griffey was on her again, tackling her to the ground, she said.

He still had a knife. Then her legs started to hurt, then her side. She would later learn she had been stabbed in her side and both legs.

At that point, she lost all strength, she said.

She saw someone holding Griffey’s hand back, she said, glimpsing the knife near her face.

She put her knees up and tried to turn around, but felt like she was about to pass out. She couldn’t move, she said.

A jury of eight women and six men also heard Monday the testimony of several police officers who arrived on the scene where someone was holding Griffey to the ground. An ambulance arrived to take Cardona to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

The jury listened to a 911 call from a witness who described the scene and urged responders to hurry.

“We got the knife away from him,” the caller said. “He chased her out of the house.”

Prosecutors showed photos of bloody smears, drops and spatter on floors, doors, cabinets, countertops, a sink and a package of cheese and two knives.

An interview with Cardona in the hospital emergency room was played for jurors. In that interview, Cardona told a police detective that “my heart knew he wouldn’t hurt me, but I knew he would hurt me a lot.”

At that point during her testimony Griffey, sitting in a dark suit at the defense table, began to sob, his head in his hands.

Justice MaryGay Kennedy called attorneys to the bench to give Griffey time to compose himself.

Griffey pleaded earlier that he was not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. He must show by a preponderance of evidence that, at the time of his criminal conduct, he lacked “substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness” of that conduct as a result of mental disease or defect, according to state law.

Defense attorney James Howaniec asked Cardona whether Griffey had ever resorted to physical violence during the eight years they were together, before July 19.

She said he hadn’t.

After Griffey’s father died, more than a year earlier, Griffey changed, was less tolerant of her and the children, she said. He had become paranoid, believing “everyone in our neighborhood was out to get him,” she said. She recommended he get therapy.

Earlier on July 19, Cardona received texts from Griffey, who said he hadn’t been feeling well.

“I knew it was his head,” she said. “He was lost in his head.”

She hadn’t anticipated he would become physically violent, though, she said.

Deputy District Attorney James Andrews asked her whether Griffey had ever displayed signs that he was delusional, had hallucinations or was disconnected from reality.

No, she answered to all of those questions.

Howaniec asked the lead police investigator why physical evidence, such as the kitchen knife, hadn’t been checked for DNA or fingerprints.

Detective Terrence McCormick said the tests wouldn’t further the investigation because the knife belonged to the couple and its use during a crime was witnessed by several people.

Andrews had told the jury during opening statements: “This is not a who-done-it.”

[email protected]

Eric Griffey sits in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on Monday morning during his attempted murder trial. 

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: