911 Call Of Hysterical Victim Played For Jury In Case Of Fake NYC Firefighter

Tuesday, May 1st 2007, 7:37 pm

By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A woman attacked by a man posing as a firefighter was hysterical after she escaped her bonds, and she screamed for help but refused to allow police officers into her apartment, according to a 911 tape played Tuesday.

Emergency operator Marian Grillo testified about the call on the morning of Nov. 1, 2005, after the woman freed herself following a 13-hour ordeal at her tormentor's hands. The victim, weeping and screaming, detailed her night of terror.

``He wanted to kill me!'' the victim shouted near the start of her call. Grillo said that she urged the woman to calm down, but that the caller remained upset _ even when officers arrived at her Manhattan apartment, where the assault took place.

The woman screamed in terror when the emergency operator told her that the officers at her front door were legitimate police officers. The victim was so rattled by her encounter with the phony firefighter that she refused to let officers inside until they showed badges and official IDs, testified Jeannia Robinette, the woman's friend.

The tape and testimony came on the second day of the trial against freelance journalist Peter Braunstein, who is charged with kidnapping, burglary, sex abuse and robbery. The victim testified Monday that Braunstein was wearing fireman's gear, right down to a plastic shield on his face, when he drugged and abused her starting the night of Halloween 2005.

The 911 call came two hours after the attacker left her tied to her bed, naked but for a pair of underwear and high-heeled sandals that he had put on her. The Associated Press is not identifying the woman because she reported being the victim of a sex crime.

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 he was someone she would see in the hallways occasionally, but that they didn't know each other.

In the 911 call, the caller describes through sobs how her assailant used his disguise to get into her apartment.

Grillo asked how the man had gotten into the woman's apartment. ``Did he follow you?'' the 911 operator asked.

``He banged on the door in a Fire Department uniform,'' the victim said, her words barely discernible through sobbing. ``He said there was a fire outside, but I think he just made that up. I think it was smoke bomb or something.''

The operator asked whether the man had any weapons.

The victim said he had a knife, a gun and a videocamera, and told Grillo, ``He was taping me while I was naked.''

Braunstein has pleaded not guilty, but his lawyers concede that he committed most of the crimes charged. They say he is mentally ill and is unable to form the intent that would make him criminally responsible for the attack.

``This trial is about why it happened,'' defense attorney Celia Gordon told the jury in opening remarks.

But Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal told the jury that Braunstein, who had been fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend, planned the attack ``out of anger and a need for revenge.''

Rosenthal said he ordered the firefighter's gear, a BB gun, the knife, a replica Detroit police badge, handcuffs and materials for making smoke bombs from Web sites weeks before he invaded the woman's apartment.

When he was captured at the University of Memphis six weeks after the attack, Braunstein stabbed himself in the neck with a dagger. He was subdued by police with pepper spray and arrested Dec. 16, 2005.

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