An El Cajon grandfather who suffered half a dozen stab wounds in a random attack told his dramatic story of survival only to NBC 7 Wednesday.
Without warning, without a word, he was jumped on by a stranger on July 26, and for what must have seemed like an eternity, in a fight for his life.
"Without saying anything. Not a word. No nothing. He was looking for killing," said the 75-year-old man who asked to be identified only as Sam.
Sam was stabbed six times while on an evening walk with his daughter and grandchildren at the corner of North Second Street and East Madison Avenue.
Sam remembers the accused attacker, Lester Kenji Riley, 39, a man half his age, angling for him and his daughter and grandchildren while securing his grip on a kitchen knife.
If a killing is what the attacker was after, he almost accomplished the task.
Sam sat on the sidewalk trying to stop the bleeding from a half dozen wounds while waiting for an ambulance.
When asked if he felt like he was going to die, Sam replied, “Of course. Of course. So I requested from God, ‘save me.’"
While Sam said his prayers, witnesses say Riley sauntered away, slowly zigzagging down East Madison with the knife in his hand. According to the El Cajon Police Department (EPD), Riley refused officer commands to drop the knife and was taken into custody with the use of less lethal bean bag rounds and a Taser.
Bruised and stitched, he is counting his blessings.
"I'm afraid many others will follow him. The benefit of the jail is much more than the benefit in the freedom," the victim said.
The motive was not made clear when it was Riley's turn to speak that night. He only mumbled under his breath as he was arrested.
"If you go to the court and they punish him for 10 or 15 years they will start nothing. He will not cry. He will not say ‘I am sorry’ because that's what he wants," Sam said.
Riley pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an attempted murder charge, which carried an elder abuse enhancement because of Sam's age, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Sam's wounds will heal. He is supposed to get the stitches removed in three days and make a full recovery.
"This is trial from God. From Jesus Christ. He tried my belief and I think I passed the exam," Sam said.
He says he doesn't hate Riley but the pleasantness of an evening walk with his family will never feel the same.
NBC 7 learned at Riley's arraignment that he has a long and violent criminal history that his brother says includes an attack on his own mother. His brother also says Riley has a history of mental illness.
Court records show Riley has been convicted in at least six criminal cases dating back to 2004. Those cases include battery, DUI, and possession of a dangerous weapon – a knife. In 2008, he was sentenced to a year in prison for the attack on his mother.
His brother says Riley was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 17 years old and believed his brother was homeless during the latest incident.
Riley was also charged with willful cruelty to an elder causing great bodily injury and was ordered held on $1 million bail.
He is facing a maximum of 14 years in prison if convicted.