the north face kids jackets EWU beating victim testifies against man accused of striking him with baseball bat
For the first time since being beaten by three men in the parking lot of his Cheney apartment complex in October, Robert “Drew” Schreiber faced one of his accused attackers.
Walking with a cane and wearing black rimmed glasses due to lasting complications from the attack, Schreiber testified Thursday against John T. Mellgren, the man charged with hitting Schreiber multiple times in the head with a bat on Oct. 8, 2016.
Prosecutor Jennifer Zappone began with simple questions: asking Schreiber where he lived and why he transferred from the University of Washington, where he placed third in Pac 12 championships in track and field, to be at Eastern Washington University.
“I was unsatisfied with the atmosphere on the team, it was a little negative for my taste,” he told her.
Then the questions quickly moved to what happened the night he was attacked.
“Do you remember anything at all from Oct. 7 or Oct. 8, 2016?” Zappone asked.
“No,” Schreiber said.
“What is the last memory you have before Oct. 7, 2016?” she responded.
“The last memory I have before Oct. 7 was Oct. 6,” he said. “I went shopping with my mom in downtown Spokane, The North Face store. I bought myself a hat.”
“What’s the next thing you remember?” Zappone asked.
“The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital,” he said.
Before Schreiber took the stand, the jury heard from Travis Dierks, an emergency room doctor at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, who was working the night shift when Schreiber was wheeled into the emergency room.
Dierks remembers the former EWU student having similar neurological function as that of a dead body, according to the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is used to measure a patient’s level of consciousnesses. Schreiber had a score of three the same as a deceased person.
His brain was bleeding, and the pressure was pushing it down toward the base of the skull, where the spinal cord connects with the brain.
“That’s horrible,” Dierks said. “That’s worst case scenario when it comes to head trauma. That will kill you.”
Neurosurgeons drilled a hole in his head, to relieve the pressure,
and he was transferred to the intensive care unit upstairs. Dierks told jurors he didn’t have much hope Schreiber would survive the night.
“I thought he would end up with severe brain damage or death,” he said.
But he didn’t die.
Instead, his long, 45 day stay in the hospital was laid out for the jury in sometimes hard to hear detail: how he awoke in darkness without the use of his eyes or voice and with excruciating pain in his head; how he couldn’t eat, so his food and fluids were fed to him through a hole in his stomach; how a portion of his skull was removed, his brain exposed while he was awake, and how he couldn’t communicate verbally or with his body.
“I was thinking, ‘why was I in so much pain,’ ” he said. “I had no idea where I was. I was confused and frightened.”
He also shared his road to recovery, which consists of almost daily visits with doctors or physical therapists, and taking about 50 pills a day.
He talked about his constant headaches, which range from a small throbbing to some that are debilitating. And about his vision loss, which is affecting the bottom half of his field of vision.
At one point, he unbuttoned his purple striped dress shirt and undid his purple tie to show the court the scar left by the ventilation tube installed into his trachea.
But even though he can’t sleep a full night without waking up, lost his sense of smell and suffers poor short term memory, he told jurors he’s just happy to be alive.
“I try not to take any day for granted now,” he said. “Which I know is something clich that a lot of people say. I was almost dead. No chance of surviving. Now that I’m alive I just want to do as much as I can now.”
When Schreiber was profiled in the Yakima Herald on March 13, he told a reporter he was running 3 miles a day, his longest reaching 8 miles. But his father, Alan Schreiber, said “he’s regressed” since then.
“We don understand why,” he said. “Not only is he not running,
but he has to use a cane to walk. He’s had some steps back. But we’re glad he’s alive.”
Thursday was the first time the family went to Mellgren’s trial. They filed into the courtroom ahead of Drew Schreiber and quickly left once he finished his testimony.