NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Opening statements were held Wednesday in the case of two children brutally stabbed in an elevator in 2014. One of them was killed, and after years of delays the man accused is finally on trial.

Family and loved ones in the courtroom wiped away tears listening to excruciating details about the stabbing attack that killed 6-year-old PJ Avitto and gravely injured his 7-year-old best friend, Mikayla Capers.

“He proceeded to take that knife and hack those children to pieces,” prosecutor Patrick O’Connor said.

The suspect, Daniel St. Hubert, wore rosary beads around his neck and, at times, a smirk on his face as opening statements began in his trial. He’s accused of attacking the children at their city housing development the afternoon of June 1, 2014 in East New York, Brooklyn.

The children had been allowed to run inside from the playground to get an ice upstairs, but they never made it. They allegedly came face to face with St. Hubert, a stranger, in the elevator.

Prosecutors say DNA and other evidence link St. Hubert to the crime. Sensing what the defense’s argument may be, he also spoke of Mikayla’s credibility.

“What’s she lying about? She’s lying about being in that elevator being hacked and slashed by a large black man?” O’Connor said.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Howard Greenberg said his client didn’t do it.

“In this profoundly disturbing case, the defendant is a patsy,” Greenberg said.

He called DNA “junk science” and embraced St. Hubert for sitting through the prosecutor’s opening statement.

“After sitting through that, you need a hug,” Greenberg said before kissing St. Hubert on the head.

The defendant’s mother screamed out in the hallway, while Mikayla’s great grandmother showed more restraint.

“Very emotional because because we live with this every day with Mikayla knowing she just survived by an inch,” Regenia Trevathan said.

Mikayla is expected to testify at some point during the two week trial. PJ’s mother took the stand first, talking about the daily nightmare she lives without her son.

St. Hubert faces several charges, including murder, attempted murder, assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.


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