The following story includes graphic language and description from court testimony.
AUBURN | Tim Blaisdell reclined back in his easy chair, intent on logging in a few hours of television-induced relaxation before calling it a night. It was about 1 a.m., and his three-story 128 Van Anden St. home was quiet — until Ryan Brahney arrived.
"My door opens, somebody said, 'Uncle Tim,'" Blaisdell said. "I look over my shoulder, and Ryan's there."
Testifying in Cayuga County Court during the second day of Brahney's murder trial on Tuesday, Blaisdell said his nephew paced across his floor, repeatedly telling Blaisdell someone needed to pick up his son from the home of his estranged ex-girlfriend, Bridget Bell.
Surprised by his nephew's behavior, Blaisdell said he decided to flip on the lights and discover the source of Brahney's agitation. But the sight revealed by the light left Blaisdell with more questions than answers.
"Ryan was there, his hands and his sleeves and his knees were all stained, like he kneeled in something wet," Blaisdell said. "After he explained what happened, I knew it was blood."
Blaisdell said Brahney told him he killed the mother of his child after hours before witnessing Bell being in the company of a longtime acquaintance and convicted drug dealer in her Auburn apartment.
"He said he couldn't take any more drug dealers in his house around his son," Blaisdell recalled.
The basis of Brahney's defense is that he acted under emotional distress that caused him to believe he was protecting his child.
Alarmed by his nephew's behavior and admissions, Blaisdell said he decided to call 911 in case Bell was still alive — even though Brahney told his uncle he was confident Bell was beyond any help.
"He said, 'She's dead. I'm sure, I checked,'" Blaisdell said.
After calming his nephew down, Blaisdell called police. Minutes later, Officer Stephan McLoughlin, of the Auburn Police Department, pulled up to Blaisdell's Auburn home.
After Blaisdell recounted Brahney's claims, McLoughlin testified he then asked Brahney to show his hands.
"He lifted his hands up to me and said, 'take me,'" the officer said.
After reading Brahney his Miranda rights, McLoughlin said he led the handcuffed man to his patrol car and asked Brahney how he injured his bloody hands. Not answering, Brahney pleaded with McLoughlin to cover his son's eyes to ensure Finn didn't see his mother's dead body.
A little over one mile away, Captain Paul Casper, of the Auburn Police Department, arrived at 115 Olympia Terrace.
Casper testified he approached Bell's back door, observing a smashed window and a torn screen. When he peered through the window, he saw Bell lying motionless on the floor, a butcher knife anchored in her chest above her heart.
Not wanting to compromise muddy footprints near Bell's back porch, Casper said he entered through the woman's front door. What he first noticed was blood.
"Blood on the wall, blood on the chair, blood everywhere," he said.
Casper said he checked both of Bell's wrists, seeking a pulse. With a wavering voice, Casper breathed deep before describing how he had to feel Bell's sliced and stabbed neck for a heartbeat.
"I stuck my fingers on the gash on the side of her neck," Casper said, choking up.
Robert Stoppacher, the Onondaga County medical examiner who conducted Bell's autopsy, testified that any of the eight wounds that penetrated Bell's chest, back and neck could've caused her death.
Stoppacher said a large vein in Bell's neck — along with her lungs, heart, liver, diaphragm and stomach — were punctured, filling her chest cavity with air and blood. The knife plunged into and across Bell's muscles, skin, ribs and breast plate, cutting through her upper lip and and slicing the tip of her nose in two.
The forensic examiner affirmed what Casper noted: Bell had defense cuts on her hands and arms.
"She was lifeless," he said. "She wasn't moving, she wasn't breathing."
Although no cocaine was found in Bell's system, Stoppacher testified during defense attorney Simon Moody's cross examination that both alcohol and marijuana were found in Bell's blood.
Back at the APD, Officer James Frost said Brahney eventually "demanded" to be brought to his cell, exclaiming "I've had a very long and stressful day, and just want to go and lie down."
Minutes after Brahney was put in a holding cell, Frost said the defendant repeatedly asked for a blanket, threatening to throw feces at the officers if his requests weren't answered. When Frost slipped the inmate a blanket through his bars, he said Brahney muttered "Make me miserable because I killed a miserable b----."
According to three of District Attorney Jon Budelmann's witnesses, Brahney was just as candid later that morning when officers booked him into the Cayuga County Jail.
As part of a suicide screening process required by state law, Captain John Nack, of the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office, said he asked Brahney if he had anything to look forward to.
Brahney's response struck him.
"'Yeah, 25 to life for killing that .... b----. I'll do every day of it,'" Nack recalled Brahney replying. "'It was worth it.'"
On Monday morning, the defendant waived his right to a trial by jury, deciding instead to put the determination of Brahney's guilt or innocence with Judge Thomas Leone.
If convicted of his seven-count indictment — including two counts of second-degree murder — Brahney faces 25 years to life in prison. If he is found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, he faces 25 years in prison with chance for parole.
The prosecution is set to finish presenting its case Wednesday, with proceedings scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m.