Teenager Copes With Life-Altering Attack

Wednesday, February 6th 2008, 10:37 pm
By: News On 6

Last spring, a drug crazed addict viciously assaulted two employees of a Chelsea pharmacy. A survivor of the brutal hammer attack spoke exclusively with News On 6 Crime Reporter Lori Fullbright.

Channing Stephenson was only 19 when she survived the life-altering event. But, she's not bitter and she still works at the pharmacy. Stephenson did, however, change her career path. And everyday she still feels the effects of hammer blows to her skull.

Stephenson has a titanium plate in her head, has migraines, walks with a limp, and lived through an ordeal with the pharmacy manager that she says she thinks about every hour.

"He pointed the gun at me and he told me to come, he said, little girl, come lay down," said assault victim Channing Stephenson.

The man with the gun was Steven Pierce. He also had a hammer and demanded pain pills, which the manager, Chad Jones, gave him. Still, Pierce made both employees get on the floor. He hit Chad twice in the head with the hammer and Chad got up and fought. But, Pierce pulled out the gun and Chad was back on the floor, trying to shield Channing and comfort her as best he could.

"I kept thinking in my head, I can survive a hammer, but, I can't survive a gunshot," said Stephenson.

Pierce hit Chad again and then Channing. When she came to, she was paralyzed on the left side. She didn't move her legs until more than a week later. Channing had the first brain surgery that night to remove all the shattered skull fragments. She had two more surgeries within a few weeks and may need a fourth. Now, more than ever, Channing is angry.

"It's hard because everyone thinks it's over because he's going to be in prison the rest of his life, but, Chad and I are still hurt. It doesn't change the fact of what he did. That's what bothers me the most," said Stephenson.

Channing refused to let the attack ruin her life. That's one reason why she still works at the pharmacy. But, there are changes. The store now has security cameras and a panic alarm and Channing rarely goes anywhere without her trained guard dog.

Channing's guard dog, Chile, helps Channing feel less afraid that she will ever be that vulnerable at someone else's mercy again.

Steven Pierce pleaded guilty this week and a judge will sentence him to between 20 years to life in April. Chad was the father of a four month old daughter at the time of the attack. His skull was also fractured, his nose broken, and his fingers broken when he used his hand to cover his head.

Because of her injuries, Channing is studying to be a physical therapist.