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'I never went after them,' love triangle stabbing defendant says

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Defendant: Stabbing was self defense
  • "I never went after them. They came to me," defendant Rachel Wade testifies
  • The deadly fight took place after months of confrontations
  • Wade says she stabbed Sarah Ludemann only after being hit three times
  • The victim's friends say Wade attacked Ludemann as she got out of a van

Clearwater, Florida (CNN) -- A 20-year-old Florida woman accused of fatally stabbing a romantic rival testified tearfully Thursday that she acted in self-defense after the victim and two friends attacked her.

Rachel Wade said she stabbed Sarah Ludemann only after she was hit three times in the head during the fight. Ludemann, who was unarmed, died at the scene after being stabbed twice in the chest.

"I never approached them. I never went after them," Wade told jurors in her second-degree murder trial. "They came to me. I had told her to leave me alone beforehand."

During cross-examination, Wade admitted she threw the knife into a neighboring yard -- but said, "I didn't know what happened and I didn't want anybody else to get hold of it."

"I didn't want anything to be done or anybody to be hurt that night," she said.

The April 15, 2009, killing took place after several months of confrontations over a former boyfriend, Joshua Camacho, via MySpace postings, text messages and voice mails.

In an August 29, 2008, voicemail, Wade can be heard saying "I'm guaranteeing you I'm going to ... murder you," and in another, she tells Ludemann, "You don't know when to stop. You haven't learned your lesson yet, but I'm going to ... teach you."

Video: Threat calls played in court

Camacho testified Thursday that he considered both women "friends with benefits" and wasn't seeing either one exclusively at the time.

Wade, at 5-foot-4 and 110 pounds, testified that she had never been in a fight before. She said she headed to a friend's house with a knife only after being told that the 5-foot-9, 166-pound Ludemann was heading to her home.

Instead, Ludemann and her friends found her outside the friend's house.

"I didn't think they would attack me if they saw the knife," she said. She testified that she swung the knife after being hit three times, but wasn't aware she had stabbed Ludemann until one of the victim's friends told her so.

"I didn't know where she was stabbed or how severe it was," Wade said. "I was scared."

Her appearance followed testimony Wednesday by the two other women in the fight -- Janet Camacho, the sister of Joshua Camacho and a friend of Ludemann's, and Jilica Smith, a friend of Janet Camacho's -- as well as Ashley Lovelady, Ludemann's best friend; and Dustin Grimes, a friend of Wade's ex-boyfriend, Javier Laboy.

Smith and Janet Camacho both testified that while they were driving to a local McDonald's with Ludemann in her minivan, they heard their friend on the phone with Wade and said they heard Wade tell her, "I'm going to stab you and your Mexican boyfriend."

Ludemann grew upset, according to the testimony, and learned of Wade's whereabouts when she happened to pass Lovelady on the road on their way to McDonald's. Lovelady told the women that she had seen Wade at Laboy's house, according to Camacho.

Ludemann then rushed over to Laboy's house, where Wade was at her car with a knife nearby, Janet Camacho and Smith testified. Ludemann pulled her minivan to an abrupt halt, its nose about 5 feet from the front of Wade's Red Saturn, and began to get out of the vehicle, according to testimony.

Within a matter of seconds, prosecutors say, Wade grabbed the knife and approached the driver's side of the minivan and attacked Ludemann between the driver's open door and the minivan. But Grimes, the final witness of the day and who was standing outside Laboy's house when the stabbing occurred, testified that the three women jumped out of the minivan at the same time and approached Wade.

Grimes' testimony, given via videotape from his military posting overseas, could be key to the defense as it seeks to build its case around self-defense.

Prosecutors played the 911 call placed on the night of the incident by Smith, who can be heard screaming that "Rachel just ... stabbed her." Both Smith and Wade wiped away tears as the audio recording was played.

Wade, who was 19 at the time of the killing, faces 20 and one-half years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

In Session's Beth Karas contributed to this report.