Eric Bent

PRINCETON — A witness testified Monday about the bloody crime scene he saw during a Sept. 26 knife attack near Princeton that left one man dead, others injured and a suspect facing charges including first-degree murder.

Eric Arthur Bent, 31, of North Carolina and Ohio appeared by teleconference before Magistrate William F. Holroyd for a preliminary hearing. Bent was arrested Sept. 26 after a stabbing was reported at 208 Cabell Street in the Princeton area.

One victim at the house, Justin Hickson, fled to 303 Webster Street where Mercer 911 was contacted. Hickson, who was late flown to the Charleston Area Medical Center for treatment, told deputies with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department that “Arthur” had stabbed him.

Bent is facing a charge of second-degree murder and three charges of malicious wounding.

Detective Cpl. M.S. Horn testified Monday that Freddie O’dell, 57, of Princeton was found face down in “a large pool of blood” when deputies went to the Cabell Street home, which he described earlier as “a local drug house.”

O’Dell had five stab wounds in the center of his back. After O’Dell was rolled over, a stab wound was found in the area around his heart along with another wound in his clavicle, also known as the collar bone. A serrated bread knife was found in his right hand, Horn said.

Horn testified that a second stabbing victim was found after he arrived at the Cabell Street home. Robert “Bob” Fuller was found sitting in a law chair behind the house. Fuller, who was transported to PCH, was covered with blood and had a serious cut below one eye. Fuller also had a stab wound around a lung and multiple other stab wounds.

At one point, Fuller told Deputy A. Moore that “it was Eric Arthur” who stabbed him, Horn said.

A third victim of the attack, Derick Price, testified at the preliminary hearing that he fled the house after Bent woke him up and attacked him with two knifes. Price, who said he was covered with blood, fled all the way to Rogers Street in Princeton where he managed to flag down a passing driver who took him to Princeton Community Hospital.

Price testified that he was sleeping in his rented room when “all of a sudden I heard glass breaking. I woke up to breaking glass...he’s breaking down my door. I don’t know the guy from Adam. I don’t know his name. I look through the glass and he’s covered in blood and he’s got a knife in both hands.”

Price said he struggled with Bent, who got him into a headlock. At one point, Price managed to get both hands around one of Price’s knives, cutting himself, and estimated that they fought “for a full 60 seconds” before Bent ran from the house. Price said he fled the home, too, and didn’t see which direction Bent had taken.

Bent yelled, “no, please don’t” while they struggled, Price recalled.

Magistrate Holroyd asked Price to look at the television that showed Bent in the Southern Regional Jail.

“That’s the guy who tried to kill me,” Price stated. “He tried to kill me with everything he had.”

Prior to the stabbings, Bent called out to the home’s occupants and “he whips out this enormous amount of methamphetamine, the most I have seen in my life,” Price testified while being questioned by attorney Joseph Harvey, who is representing Bent with attorney Derrick Lefler. Bent then started giving pieces of the controlled substance to other people. Holding up his hands, Price estimated that the mass of meth was about the size of a tennis ball or baseball.

Harvey asked Price if he used any of the methamphetamine, and Price stated that he did.

“I used to be on it pretty heavy,” Price said. “I used to do anything I could get my hands on. Basically, I did do that, stupidly I might add, but it was just a fluke. I didn’t think about the consequences at that time of doing it or having it. I mess up that one time.”

Price stated that he used “ a very small amount” of the drug before flushing the rest down a toilet. Horn later testified that no controlled substances were found in the home.

Blood was everywhere in the home. Price recalled seeing it during the attack, saying there were “astronomical amounts of blood.”

“It truly looked like somebody tried to create a murder scene,” Price said. “There was so much blood everywhere.”

Bent was found near the intersection of Brick Street and Rogers Street after a 2004 Chevrolet Impala stolen at Webster Street was found. Deputies were about to start a search with the help of a Princeton Police Department K-9 when Bent came out of a wooded area. He had some lacerations on his arms, Horn said.

Bent was taken to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office where he was read his Miranda Rights, which he acknowledged, Horn testified.

“He said that he was 3 years old, acting erratic, and at one point referred to me as daddy and asked me for a hug,” Horn recalled. “I informed him he was not getting a hug.”

Bent was then transported to PCH for treatment. While being transported to the hospital, he made “a spontaneous utterance” to a deputy about how pulling out the knife was the hardest thing to do, Horn said.

A steak knife was located between the home’s kitchen and the living room area, Horn said, adding later that several knives were found around the home. A second knife was found near the Lilly Highway Addition where Price had dropped it after running from the house.

Horn said he read Bent his Miranda Rights again when he was brought back to the sheriff ‘s department. During the second interview, Bent said he stabbed the men. He said it all “happened in a dream” and how the men seemed to be his children.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Anthony H. Heltzel asked Horn if there was any indication that the other men had fought each other. Horn said there was not.

Magistrate Holroyd ruled that the case had probable cause. It will be sent to the Mercer County Grand Jury.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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