Good Samaritan says she tried to shield man in brutal St. Paul attack

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 5, 2013 - 9:20 PM

Good Samaritan’s account of attack by St. Paul mob opens trial.

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A memorial was set up in the area of the Payne-Phalen neighborhood where Ray Widstrand was beaten in August.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Tanikgwa Givins of St. Paul testified Tuesday that she threw herself over Ray Widstrand to shield him as a mob of young men and boys brutally attacked him this summer.

“People were stomping on him,” Givins, 22, testified. “There were too many people. I tried to lay down on top of him, but I got kicked.”

Months after the Aug. 4 attack, Widstrand remains dependent on a wheelchair and struggles to speak.

Givins’ testimony came as the first of five men charged in the attack went on trial in Ramsey County District Court. Issac O. Maiden, 19, is charged with first-degree assault, first-degree aggravated robbery and two counts of a crime committed for the benefit of a gang.

Givins said that she was picking up her sister and cousin from a party that had devolved into fights between girls in the street near the intersection of Preble Street and E. Minnehaha Avenue. Authorities said as many as 40 to 50 teens, some with gang ties, were present.

Givins testified that she heard a “knock” and turned to see Widstrand on the ground. She ran to his aid and struggled to pull up his shorts as thieves stripped them off and ran away.

“His boxers came down, and I put them back up,” Givins said as Widstrand’s mother, Linda Widstrand, nodded in quiet appreciation.

Givins said she could not identify any of the attackers by face because all she saw were shoes and legs.

“I think she did a great thing,” Linda Widstrand said during a noon lunch break.

Widstrand’s sister, Alice Widstrand, testified that her brother still speaks in a “rough, slow” voice and will undergo surgery Wednesday morning to replace two bone flaps in his skull.

Video of attack

Also Tuesday, St. Paul police Sgt. Sheila Lambie testified that cellphone video obtained from someone at the scene shows several people gathered around some girls fighting as a white male entered the frame. His face cannot be seen, Lambie said, but his white T-shirt with a distinctive logo and yellow shorts with white lacing matched the clothes that Widstrand was wearing when he was attacked about 11:30 p.m.

The video stopped right after Widstrand appeared to bend over and extend his arm toward one of the girls, Lambie testified. Widstrand lived a block from the scene.

Maiden’s attorney, Bruce Wenger, successfully objected when Assistant Ramsey County Attorney David Miller tried to have a photo from the video and then the video itself admitted as evidence.

In his opening statement, Miller said that no blood was found on the shoes Maiden was allegedly wearing that night. He did not say what would tie Maiden to the attack.

Wenger latched onto that apparent gap in evidence.

“This was a devastating beating,” Wenger said, “but Mr. Maiden wasn’t even there.”

  • related content

  • MORE SURGERY: Ray Widstrand will have two bone flaps replaced in his skull Wednesday after August’s brutal beating.

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