By KC Baker
September 18, 2018 05:32 PM
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Credit: Tiffany Ferguson/Facebook

On Monday a Tennessee woman took the stand at the start of the murder trial for the man accused of killing her roommate, a 23-year-old nurse, during a robbery of their condo last year, multiple news outlets report.

At times in tears, Melissa Thornily testified about the horror of trying to save her dying friend after the brutal attack in their Nashville residence.

Tiffany Ferguson was stabbed to death after she confronted alleged intruder Christopher McLawhorn, a 26-year-old homeless man whom authorities say entered her bedroom just before 6 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2017, The Tennessean reports.

“The first thing that woke me up was a scream that morning,” Thornily said on the stand, according to local station WSMV.

After jumping out of bed and seeing that their front door was open, Thornily testified, she screamed for Ferguson before finding her lying in her bed, bloody and barely alive, with her mouth open.

Among her wounds was a 5.5-inch gash to the chest, the Tennessean reports.

While Thornily performed CPR on her friend, “the 911 operator stayed on the phone,” she said. “They told me to keep counting. She had one short breath at one point, but that was all.”

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Christopher McLawhorn, 26
| Credit: Source: Metro Nashville PD Twitter

McLawhorn is charged with premeditated murder, felony murder, especially aggravated burglary and two counts of theft for allegedly stealing Ferguson’s laptop and her purse.

He was arrested on March 8, 2017, and indicted five months later. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

He faces life in prison if convicted.

On Monday, prosecutor Pam Anderson told jurors that Ferguson was stabbed nine times, according to the Tennessean. Anderson said McLawhorn was able to enter Ferguson’s apartment through an unlocked door.

Surveillance footage outside the apartment from around the time of the slaying shows a man matching McLawhorn’s description walking back and forth as he brought things out of the building, Anderson said, according to the Tennessean.

After the homicide, police found Ferguson’s laptop and jewelry near railroad tracks where McLawhorn had gone, Anderson said. He also allegedly tried to pawn one of Ferguson’s rings.

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Tiffany Ferguson
| Credit: Tiffany Ferguson/Facebook

In his opening statements, McLawhorn’s attorney, Nicholas McGregor, argued that his client would be found not guilty.

“The sad thing is the killer is still out there,” he said, the Tennessean reports.

However, McLawhorn’s cellmate, David Faulk, took the stand claiming that he heard McLawthorn admit to the killing, according to local station WTVF. Before his arrest, other homeless men also reported to police that McLawhorn had allegedly been saying he’d “killed someone,” the Tennessean reports.

“At first he’s like, ‘She started screaming,'” Faulk said in court. “He got scared and by the time it was over, stabbed her.”

Ferguson “was a rising star in nursing, having been selected to participate in our nursing residency program just after graduating college,” the CEO of Saint Thomas Health, the hospital where she worked, said last year.

A critical-care nurse, Ferguson had worked at Saint Thomas for less than a year, according to the hospital.