NEW YORK – The victim of a 13-hour sexual assault was sobbing and hysterical after the Halloween attack, screaming for help but refusing to allow police into her apartment until they showed ID, according to a 911 tape played for jurors Tuesday.
"He tried to kill me!" the victim shouted near the start of her call on the morning of Nov. 1, 2005, after her attacker — who had posed as a city firefighter — left and she freed herself.
Peter Braunstein, 43, has pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse, arson, kidnapping, burglary, robbery and assault. The defense says he had an undiagnosed mental illness at the time of the attack and was therefore not criminally liable.
Emergency operator Marian Grillo testified about the woman's call, describing the woman as weeping and screaming.
Grillo said the caller remained upset even when police arrived at her Manhattan apartment.
The victim was so rattled by her encounter with the phony firefighter that she refused to let the officers inside until they showed badges and official IDs, testified Jeannia Robinette, the victim's best friend.
The playing of the tape and the testimony came on the second day of Braunstein's trial.
The woman had been a co-worker of Braunstein's at Fairchild Publications, publisher of Women's Wear Daily and W magazine. She testified that she saw him in the office hallways occasionally but said they didn't know one another.
Braunstein, dressed in firefighter's garb, allegedly started two small fires outside the 34-year-old victim's apartment and then banged on her door to "rescue" her.
She said she looked through the door's peephole, saw a fireman and opened the door, and then the man rushed in.
Police cornered Braunstein six weeks later at the University of Memphis. He stabbed himself in the neck with a dagger before he was subdued with pepper spray and arrested Dec. 16, 2005.
The Associated Press is not identifying the woman because she reported being the victim of a sex crime.