, Salem, MA

Local News

October 10, 2013

Stabbing suspect: running away ‘not an option’


“You’re being warned you can’t win this fight?” asked Buxton. “That’s why you got the knife?”

“Yes,” Christensen admitted.

“You wanted to win that fight,” suggested the prosecutor. Christensen denied it.

And when the teens got to the park that night, they didn’t see Vernazzaro at first. It wasn’t until one of them called Vernazzaro’s cellphone that he appeared, Christensen acknowledged.

So why not just run away, asked the prosecutor.

“It wasn’t an option,” Christensen said.

“You waited for him,” suggested the prosecutor. In fact, she suggested, it was Christensen and Martin who called Vernazzaro over.

“It might have happened,” Christensen said. “I don’t know what you mean by ‘call,’” he said.

The prosecutor elaborated, quoting Christensen at the park as calling Vernazzaro a vulgarity and telling him to come to them.

Christensen insisted that he simply wanted to talk.

“Why were you going to meet him if you didn’t want to fight him?” Buxton asked.

“To talk to him,” Christensen testified.

Then why did he bring the knife?

Christensen said another friend, Danny Martin, suggested it.

And afterward, why did he toss away his green T-shirt, found later by police with bloodstains on it, in a neighbor’s yard?

“It was dirty,” said Christensen said.

Christensen then made a quick trip back to the park to retrieve his hat.

He testified that he saw Vernazzaro lying on the ground, his head in the lap of a friend.

But, he insisted, “At that point, I didn’t know the extent of the situation.”

He acknowledged, “I saw blood. I didn’t see stab wounds.”

“But you knew you stabbed him?” asked Buxton.

“Yes,” he said.

Throughout his cross-examination, his memory was less clear than it had been under questioning by his own attorney, even when asked about statements he made to police, which had been played in court just last Friday.

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