By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Why did a bride allegedly stab her groom eight hours before the wedding?
That's the question hanging over a bizarre weekend homicide in eastern Pennsylvania as a 31-year-old woman faces charges that she stabbed her fiance in the chest during an argument inside their apartment.
Na Cola Franklin has a preliminary hearing on Friday, on what would have been her fiance's 37th birthday. She has applied for a public defender but has not yet been assigned one.
Franklin and Billy Brewster, a truck driver, were supposed to be married at 10 a.m. Saturday. Instead, police were called to their second-floor apartment in Whitehall Township, outside Allentown, at 2:19 a.m. and found the mortally wounded groom. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Brewster's mother didn't even know he had been killed when she arrived at their apartment for the wedding.
"We came for a wedding, and we're burying Billy on Thursday morning" in Berwick, where he's from, Barbara Obas told WFMZ-TV on Monday. A telephone message left at a listing for Obas was not immediately returned.
The motive remained unclear. Obas said there hadn't previously been any violence in the relationship. She said the couple had been arguing over trivial matters at the time of the stabbing.
"The dress and eating sandwiches, and I think she was very nervous that everything wouldn't be perfect. Her hair wasn't right," Obas said. "Just women stuff. It was nothing violent; it was just things that wouldn't have made a bit of difference."
The Lehigh County district attorney's office declined to comment Monday, as did Whitehall Township Police Chief Linda Kulp, citing policy and the ongoing police investigation.
A witness, Monique Kali, told authorities that Franklin and Brewster were about to head out to get some food when they began arguing, according to a police affidavit. Franklin began swinging a knife and stabbed Brewster twice in the left side of his chest, puncturing his heart, authorities said.
Kali told police she tackled the bride while Kali's husband, Nakia Kali - Brewster's cousin - knocked the weapon out of her hand. The groom staggered out the front door to the second-floor landing, where he was found by police.
Monique and Nakia Kali had traveled to Pennsylvania from Illinois and were staying with the engaged couple. Four children were also inside the apartment at the time of the stabbing, and one of them removed the knife and took it to the kitchen, according to court documents.
Neighbor Steve Engel said the pastor who was supposed to marry the couple came looking for them at the apartment building that morning. Engel said distraught people in suits and dresses - presumably wedding guests - then began showing up throughout the day.
"There were a lot of people very upset. My wife and I were very upset," he said Monday.
He said the couple "were very friendly, very nice people. I never heard them argue."
At her video arraignment from jail, Franklin - apparently unable to grasp that he was dead - pleaded to the judge, "You got to check again!" according to The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown. Told that Brewster had been pronounced dead, Franklin sobbed and covered her face.
"I want my family back," she said. "I want to go home."
Asked if she understood the homicide charge, the newspaper said, Franklin continued weeping and replied, in a halting voice, "I ... did ... not ... kill ... him ... on ... purpose."
Franklin has not entered a plea. Friday's preliminary hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
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