NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man charged with stabbing a 6-year-old boy to death and critically injuring a 7-year-old girl inside a Brooklyn elevator was indicted on murder and other Wednesday.
Daniel St. Hubert was indicted on one count of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault and one count each of third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
He faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted.
St. Hubert, 27, was expressionless as he faced the judge Wednesday until attorneys began to speak, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported. That’s when he suddenly interjected.
“Your honor, is it all right if I have a moment with the court please, a short moment?” he asked the judge.
Because he was not supposed to speak, St. Hubert was taken from the courtroom and returned to Bellevue, where he was being held.
St. Hubert was arrested last week in connection with the stabbing at the Boulevard Houses in East New York that left 6-year-old Prince Joshua “P.J.” Avitto dead and 7-year-old Mikayla Capers fighting for her life.
P.J.’s father, Nicholas Avitto, attended Wednesday’s court proceedings.
“Unimaginable how this guy did this to little kids,” he told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa. “I just wanted to really see him with my own eyes.”
The attack happened around 6 p.m. on June 1 when the children went upstairs to get some ice cream from P.J.’s sixth-floor apartment, authorities said.
That was when police said St. Hubert followed them into the elevator and used a steak knife to stab each child multiple times.
P.J. died at a hospital. Mikayla was critically hurt and was treated for abdominal bleeding and a lacerated spleen, according to authorities. Investigators said the little girl was stabbed more than a dozen times.
After spending several days recovering, hospital officials confirmed Wednesday that Mikayla has been released from the hospital, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.
“Thank God that Mikayla Capers is alive, is out of the hospital today,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
Mikayla was staying with her great-grandmother Wednesday night, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“These two innocent children were subjected to unimaginable violence and terror in that elevator,” Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said. “We will now hold Daniel St. Hubert responsible for his cowardly, unmerciful and inhumane acts against Prince Joshua Avitto and Mikayla Capers.”
Authorities said a bloody knife recovered at the scene tested positive for St. Hubert’s DNA.
St. Hubert’s public defender admits the case against his client is complex.
“Everything is up for exploration at this point,” said defense attorney Edward Friedman.
Friedman said it’s too soon to tell if he’ll pursue an insanity defense.
“It’s being explored,” Friedman told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
Investigators are also looking at St. Hubert as a suspect in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Tanaya Copeland, who was killed a few blocks away two days before the attack at the Boulevard Houses, authorities said.
Copeland’s funeral was held Wednesday.
The 18-year-old nursing student had just finished practice with the community band she played in when she was stabbed to death.
“You would that think you’d be safe to walk home from a rehearsal, but now, you have to look behind you three or four times and also try to make sure you’re walking home with a group,” said friend Desmond Hill. It’s a shame.”
“She was a sweet person,” added friend Elizabeth Sinclair. “I can’t — there’s not a bad thing anybody can say about her. Nothing.”
St. Hubert is also a suspect in the subway stabbing of a homeless man last week on the southbound No. 1 train platform at 18th Street in Chelsea.
Police spokesman Stephen Davis said St. Hubert was seen on surveillance video near the subway station where the attack occurred and witnesses said a man who looked like St. Hubert was seen on the subway platform.
St. Hubert has not been charged in those two cases. Police said investigators are still testing forensic evidence.
As St. Hubert’s case moves forward in criminal court, de Blasio announced new New York City Housing Authority surveillance cameras are set to be installed at the Boulevard Houses.
There were no cameras inside the building or the elevator where the children were attacked, despite money being allocated for the cameras last year.
In the wake of the incident, NYCHA has expedited its plans and is now installing 17 cameras in the Boulevard Houses.
“The installation work that begins today is the result of a highly collaborative process among City Hall, NYCHA and the Comptroller’s office,” de Blasio said. “The safety and security of families living in public housing is a priority for my administration and we will continue to work to find ways to give NYCHA residents the quality of life they deserve.”
As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, de Blasio visited the Boulevard Houses to see for himself the beginnings of the installation of the cameras.
The mayor also announced that the installation of cameras at 49 NYCHA properties will take place by end of the year.
However, one resident at the Bouelvard Houses, who did not want his name used, said it’s too little, too late.
“It took this tragedy to begin to put cameras in here,” the man said. “That’s messed up.”
Residents of East New York, Brooklyn remained on edge.
“You have to shake it. So you won’t be afraid, so you won’t be afraid for your family,” said Priscilla Mathews-Martinez. “You pray that they do something before something else happens. It’s nerve-wracking.”
City Councilwoman Inez Barron said Tuesday that the corner of Schenck and Stanley avenues will be renamed in honor of Avitto, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
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