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updated: 6/5/2014 1:52 PM

Victim in Lombard stabbing says she was prepared to die

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  • Demetrice Tompkins

    Demetrice Tompkins


Crystal Ward says she prayed and was prepared to die on the morning of Dec. 12, 2011, as her "on-and-off boyfriend of 20 years," Demetrice Tompkins repeatedly beat and stabbed her in the washroom of his brother's Lombard apartment.

Tompkins, 49, is charged with attempted murder and aggravated domestic battery after the attack that took place in James Kirkwood's hallway and washroom on the 2200 block of South Stewart Avenue.

Ward, 43, testified Wednesday she and her 3-year-old son were visiting Kirkwood that Monday morning. While Ward was there, Tompkins, with whom she was no longer romantically involved, arrived home from work and entered the apartment where he sometimes stayed.

Ward said Tompkins, already angry with her for going out the night before while he watched their two children, began questioning her of her whereabouts and accused her of "seeing someone else." She said Tompkins slapped a drink out of her hand, causing her to slip on the floor, when she told him not to question her.

Ward said the beating started when she then told Tompkins she would attend a court hearing stemming from a July 2011 domestic dispute between the two.

"That's when he dragged me to the bathroom and started punching me," Ward testified. "I was facing the mirror and I could see my face changing colors as he punched me."

During a break in the attack, Ward said she sat against the washroom door to prevent Tompkins from coming back at her but, after a struggle, he forced his way back in.

"He looked at me and pulled a knife with his right hand and said 'I'm going to jail for murder today.' Then he slit my left wrist and stabbed my torso," Ward said. "I said 'Are you really going to do this? What about our kids?' and he said 'You don't care about them anyway' and he stabbed me again. I started praying."

After being stabbed at least four times, Ward said she cut her hand as she grabbed the blade of the knife to keep from being stabbed again. She said Tompkins then choked her until he realized the police were on their way.

Kirkwood said he called 911 when he heard a struggle in the washroom and was unable to open the door.

Kirkwood said he never saw Tompkins with a knife and doesn't know how he would have gotten it.

Tompkins, Ward and the toddler, however, were left in the apartment alone for several minutes when Kirkwood went downstairs to let the police in.

Assistant State's Attorney Anne Celine O'Hallaren said Tompkins fled the apartment when police arrived and ran across the complex to Ward's nearby apartment. Once there, he changed clothes, grabbed another knife and barricaded himself inside before eventually surrendering to police.

Lombard police officer Brad Bichel testified he and several other officers tracked Tompkins to Ward's apartment and forced their way in using a tool borrowed from the fire department.

"When we entered, (Tompkins) was holding a knife in the hallway before he ducked into a bedroom, out of sight," Bichel said.

After a brief standoff, Bichel said, Tompkins threw the knife from the bedroom into the hallway and was arrested.

Prosecutors will resume their case today before the defense presents its case.

Assistant Public Defender Edmund Laube, however, used his opening statement to tell jurors Tompkins has to be found not guilty because there is no evidence Tompkins ever had a knife in Kirkwood's apartment. He also mentioned the continuing relationship Ward appears to have maintained with Tompkins since his incarceration.

"Crystal Ward visited Demetrice 17 times (in jail)," Laube said, concluding his opening arguments.

At the time of the stabbing, Tompkins was out on bail and awaiting trial in the July 2011 domestic battery case involving Ward. His criminal record includes a prior domestic battery charge and a drug possession case from the late 1990s.

If convicted Tompkins faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

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