By Marco Poggio and Shayna Jacobs
A witness to the stabbing death of Morgan Freeman's granddaughter in Washington Heights testified Tuesday that the victim used her last breaths to ask why.
"Why are you doing this?" E'Dena Hines asked her long-time boyfriend, Lamar Davenport, as he repeatedly knifed her outside their building on W. 162nd St. near St. Nicholas Ave., according to the passerby.
Hines' dying words on Aug. 16, 2015, were overheard by nursing student Cristina Aviles, 22, who testified Tuesday that she and a group of friends came upon the killing as they walked to a nearby apartment.
Davenport, 33, is charged with second-degree murder in the savage slaying of Hines, also 33. His attorneys say he's not guilty by reason of insanity because he was in the throes of a PCP-induced psychosis at the time of the attack.
Aviles and her friends watched as Davenport plunged a blade into Hines' body 25 times — leaving her lifeless on the asphalt.
"We really wanted to do something, but we were scared he was gonna attack us, too," Aviles told reporters in the hallway of Manhattan Supreme Court. The woman, who lived in the Bronx at the time, came from Miami to testify at Davenport's bench trial.
"I wished I didn't have to come back, but I felt bad," she said. "I wanted to help (Hines) out. I want justice, just like everybody else."
She told the court Davenport was ranting about the devil and started repeatedly stabbing Hines. He said he had to exorcise "the demon out of her," the witness said.
Davenport's attorneys will argue he should be found not legally responsible due to the mental disease or defect the drugs he was on created.
Prosecutors say he was lucid enough to form the intent to kill and that Davenport's rage was personal. They say he knew what he was doing and was in control of his actions when he committed the heinous crime.
Davenport, as he plunged a blade into Hines' chest, back and arm, babbled about the stabbing being "what God wants," Aviles said.
"She had demons in her that he has to release," she recalled of the crazed commentary.
She called 911 and told an operator: "I'm watching this f--king guy stabbing her … I think she's dead."
Another witness Tuesday was Leo Vanterpool, the partner of Myrna Colley-Lee, Freeman's second wife, who adopted Hines as a young child. Vanterpool, 68, owns the four-story brownstone where Hines and Davenport lived.
Vanterpool testified the tenants lived in the building for about 10 weeks prior to the horrific event. Davenport was unemployed, while his ambitious other half pursued her career.
"E'Dena was pursuing her acting career and she was going to auditions on a daily basis," Vanterpool said. "She obtained a role as soon she arrived in New York, in a play."
On the day Hines died, Vanterpool, who was downstairs, heard a disturbance upstairs and saw the pair leave through the front door but went back to sleep when he heard no argument.
He awoke a short time later to sirens and an emergency response scene flooding the block.
"I broke through the crowd and I saw Ms. Hines, in the middle of the street, lying on her back, with a knife in her chest," he said.
"With my peripheral vision I saw somebody being escorted to the back of a car and I assumed it was (Davenport)."
He then called Colley-Lee to break the news to her.
Davenport faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison upon conviction. If Justice Ellen Biben adopts his defense, he could go to a psychiatric facility for a period of time that will be determined after the verdict.
Hines was the daughter of Freeman's stepdaughter, who he adopted when he married his first wife, Jeannette Adair Bradshaw. The couple divorced and Freeman married Colley-Lee, who adopted Hines.