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New trial denied man convicted of stabbing woman 25 times, asking how she preferred to die

A state appeals court has rejected a Lancaster County man’s claim that a judge’s refusal to pay for a defense eyewitness identification evidence expert led to his being unjustly convicted of stabbing a woman 25 times.

The eyewitness expert angle was a red herring because there was plenty of other evidence, including the victim’s blood on his clothes, to convict Elswart Bodden for the vicious September 2014 assault in Lancaster City, the Superior Court judges found in a ruling issued this week.

The pile of evidence against Bodden, 25, does seem rather high, according to the state court opinion by President Judge Susan Peikes Gantman.

Bodden, who is serving a 37 1/2- to 95-year state prison sentence for convictions on attempted murder and other charges, argued on appeal that he needed the eyewitness expert’s testimony to counteract the victim’s identification of him as her attacker.

It is amazing this wasn’t a murder case. According to the victim’s testimony, that’s what Bodden intended it to be.

Gantman cited an opinion by county Judge Howard F. Knisely, who described what happened when Bodden, a “self-described drug dealer,” broke into the woman’s apartment and told her he was there to steal her boyfriend’s guns and money.

Bodden started hitting the woman over the head with the hilt of the haunting knife he was carrying. When she fought back, he started stabbing her. Over the course of an hour, Bodden would stab the 30-year-old woman – he also tried to smother her with a washcloth – then take breaks to case the home for things to steal, Kinisely wrote.

He said Bodden “returned to the bedroom between five and 10 times to check and see if (the victim) was still alive and, upon seeing that she was, would stab her again.”

Eventually, Bodden asked the woman if she would like to be killed by him cutting her neck or wrists, Knisely wrote. She chose her wrists, and as he cut them Bodden told her she had to die because she had seen his face.

The woman didn’t die, however, and after Bodden left called 911. Police said officers saw Bodden crash his girlfriend’s car into one of their cruisers as he fled the scene. He evaded police after a vehicle chase, but was tracked down.

His DNA was found on a gun stolen from the victim’s home, and her blood was found on Bodden’s shorts and sneakers, Knisely noted. Bowden also left his cigarettes and cell phone on woman’s porch and admitted being in her home.

A county jury convicted him last year.

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