A brave young woman who survived a heartless shooting that left three others dead in a Newark schoolyard to took the witness stand and described the savage machete attack, shooting and sexual assault that nearly took her life.
Showing no sign of the wound from the bullet she took to the head on Aug. 4, 2007, the witness -- who is not being identified by NBCNewYork because of sexual assault charges against two other defendants -- appeared calm and collected on the stand as she described witnessing three murders as well as her own sexual assault and attempted murder.
"Somebody was trying to chop my neck off with a machete,” the witness said. “Somebody had a knee on my back, held my hair off and tried to chop my neck off.”
It was chilling testimony in the trial of Rodolfo Godinez -- the first of six defendants charged in the execution-style murders that drew national spotlight on Newark's violent crime problem -- the witness described a typical day of summer in the city that went horribly wrong.
"I remember going to my Dad's house, went to the chicken shack, we were just chilling," the victim said. "It was hot ... it was nice outside."
She went to IHOP at one point with her brother, one of the victims shot to death on that summer day. The four friends went to a park, but cops told them to leave because of a curfew shutting down the area at night.
"We was riding around, trying to figure out where we could go," the woman said. Then the friends decided, "Let's go to Mt. Vernon [school]," which suggests they went to that location randomly -- a tragic choice.
Shortly after arriving at the schoolyard, the witness and her three companions would be set upon by a vicious gang that would kill three of them and leave the last within an inch of her life. When the ordeal was over, she would be the lone survivor of the group, lying awake in the hospital trying to make sense of what had happened.
"It was horrible,” the witness said. “I was sick. I remember those days very well. I was in crucial pain…I didn't want to look in the mirror I didn't want to see what I looked like. I couldn't eat, everything came back up."
Witnesses on Wednesday described how the then-19-year-old fought for her life with gunshot and stab wounds as her slain friends lay yards away. Jurors also saw photos taken at the crime scene in Newark.
Testimony is ongoing, so please check back for updates.