Left: Surveillance video from the night of the incident. Right: Kathryn Knott

Left: Surveillance video from the night of the incident. Right: Kathryn Knott

Kathryn Knott’s defense: Witnesses blame ‘aggressive’ victims for escalating conflict

Statements changed, nobody recalled a gay slur, and one “didn’t know if” her later jaw pain “was a cavity or related to” the beating.

Patrick Conly says he was randomly attacked.

The Archbishop Wood graduate who was out in Center City more than a year ago said after a scuffle ensued between one of his friends and a gay couple, he was thrown to the ground and hit in the face. Another woman in the group testified that she was punched in the face with a closed fist by one of the men who prosecutors have said is a victim in the case.

“We were attacked out of nowhere,” Conly testified Monday. “It was never 15 on two.”

That testimony doesn’t jibe with what prosecutors have been trying to prove since Thursday. Earlier Monday, they rested their case against Kathryn Knott, a 25-year-old from Bucks County who was with a group of friends the night a gay couple was brutally beaten in Center City Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 2014. One of the victims needed his jaw wired shut; the jury earlier saw bloodstained clothing worn by the men.

Two of Knott’s co-defendants, Philip R. Williams, 25, and Kevin J. Harrigan, 27 — agreed in October to a plea deal that kept them both out of prison, but Knott declined an offered deal and elected to go to trial, which began Thursday.

The case garnered national attention after a video circulated of the group of about 15 friends, who had walked from the La Viola restaurant and eventually got into some sort of altercation with Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught, a gay couple walking in the area of 16th and Chancellor streets. After the video was circulated, Twitter users pounced and attempted to name those who were involved, though a detective Monday testified that social media’s role in solving the case was overstated.

Hesse and Haught testified last week that they were beaten by members of this group of about 15 people. Hesse had two black eyes. Haught suffered two broken cheekbones, had a large laceration down his face that will leave a scar and had to have his jaw wired shut for eight weeks.

Both Hesse, Haught and neutral eyewitnesses testified that members of the group used gay slurs when addressing them. Haught said he remembered Knott specifically screaming “faggot.”

Of those who testified, Hesse, whom Knott is alleged to have hit in the face, could not initially identify her in a photo array just days after the incident. But Haught, who was more severely injured in the assault, did positively identify Knott, as did an eyewitness who also testified.

However, four of Knott’s friends who testified Monday — Conly, Elizabeth Foley, John McCabe and Taylor Peltzer — said they didn’t hear anyone using a gay slur, and each said they didn’t see Knott touch anyone.

In fact, Conly said that after an initial altercation in which victims Hesse and Haught were the “aggressive” ones, Hesse threw Conly to the ground and then hit him in the face. When Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry stepped up for the cross examination, he asked why Conly’s statement to police didn’t include mention that he had been thrown to the ground.

Conly said he told police at Central Detectives that he was thrown to the ground by Hesse, but it somehow didn’t make it into his own signed statement. Peltzer later testified that the first thing she saw in the argument was one of her friends being thrown to the ground, though she twice named a different friend who was not Conly.

In addition, Peltzer, who can be seen on shaky cell phone video recorded by Foley, said Haught — the other named victim in the case — hit her in the face with a closed fist, prompting Williams to charge at Haught and deliver the blow that broke his face. There’s no video of any punching occurring, but Peltzer said she was hit after offering to help one of the victims find his lost glasses.

Peltzer said that despite being hit in the face by a man, she didn’t call 911 and instead left with her group of friends and walked to Tir Na Nog, where the majority of them had another drink and stayed for about 30 to 40 minutes.

As to why she didn’t call 911 after she was hit in the face by Haught, Peltzer responded “I was in shock and I was petrified.”

When asked if she sought any medical treatment for the closed fist punch in the cheek, she testified that some time after the incident she visited the dentist because she was having pain in her mouth and back teeth that she thought might have been related to the Sept. 11 incident.

Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth pressed her on the medical care, and Peltzer said she was at the dentist for four hours having work done but couldn’t recall what was actually done to her mouth. She said she “didn’t know if it was a cavity or related to this.”

Knott’s defense attorney Louis Busico, of Newtown, asked each of his witnesses who testified today and none said that they saw Knott punching or hitting anyone, and each claimed she was an innocent bystander to the event as it unfolded.

All four of the witnesses also testified that no one contacted police even after they were made aware via news reports that Haught was hospitalized with broken cheekbones. Instead, each of the them hired an attorney only after they appeared on the news several days later in surveillance video. Their attorneys then contacted police and set up interviews.

The trial will begin again at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning as the defense continues to present its case.

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