Four times, Shaquen Whitfield had changed his story about his role in an attack two years ago on a Burnsville man, who was stabbed repeatedly and his home set afire during a home invasion.

And on Wednesday, Whitfield, a star witness in the state's prosecution of one of the alleged attackers, agreed in court that he had changed his story for a fifth time.

A Dakota County prosecutor presented the testimony of Whitfield, 21, to a jury that's deciding whether to convict Irvin Cook, 20.

He's charged with five felonies in connection with the attempted killing of Paul Traub, a 54-year-old father who survived 21 knife wounds.

Traub had forgotten to shut the overhead garage door to his townhouse near 136th Street and Burnsville Parkway late on May 10, 2008.

Early the next morning, the strangers walked in, robbed him, stabbed and sliced him, and ordered him to remain on his bedroom floor. They set eight fires and ripped out a phone before fleeing in Traub's car, according to prosecutor Scott Hersey.

Traub narrowly avoided -- by a half-inch here, an inch-and-a-half there -- knife wounds that could have laid open an artery or pierced vital organs, according to earlier trial testimony from Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a south metro medical examiner and forensic expert.

Defense attorney Arlene Perkkio argues that no evidence links Cook to the crimes, save for the testimony of Whitfield. Whitfield, of Prior Lake, is being held in the Scott County Jail after pleading guilty to three felonies in the case. He's hoping for a break in his sentencing next month.

On Wednesday, Whitfield stuck to some versions of his accounts: that he stayed in the garage and on a landing, while Cook and co-defendant Lance Wilkins entered the home. Whitfield testified that from outside the home, he heard a man say: "Get out of my house now and I won't call the cops."

But Perkkio presented police statements and letters that Whitfield wrote to several people from the Scott County jail, in which he provided conflicting stories. Some deny that he had involvement; others say he was a lookout from the garage.

The state rested its case Wednesday. The defense is to begin calling witnesses Thursday. Wilkins, of Prior Lake, faces the same charges as Cook and has asked for a hearing on the evidence.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017