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Man pleads guilty in stab of 86-year-old

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A Flushing man pleaded guilty this week to second-degree attempted murder after viciously attacking an 86-year-old retired correction officer in her Springfield Gardens home last year, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Andre Mathis, 34, of Flushing, is expected to be sentenced to 14 years in prison after admitting he broke into Vivian Squires’ longtime home and proceeded to stab her repeatedly and steal her jewelry and car, Brown said. Mathis, who had done yard work for Squires, pleaded guilty Monday.

“I’m glad it’s almost over, and I’ll get some kind of closure,” Squires said of his plea. “My whole life got turned upside-down because of this. I’m not able to walk as well anymore. I hope he’s put in jail so he can’t do what he did to me to anyone else.”

Squires, who is about to turn 88, was sleeping in her Springfield Gardens home around 6 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2009, when she was awakened by a noise and then attacked by Mathis, who had climbed in through her bedroom window, the DA said.

The elderly woman had to receive hundreds of stitches after Mathis slashed her torso, back, neck and hands, the DA said. Squires said the effects from the attack continues to plague her and she now has to use a walker to get around.

“The victim in this case should have been able to feel safe as she was sleeping in her own bed in her own home,” Brown said. “The defendant shattered that safety when he broke into her home and brutally stabbed her again and again after she was awakened by his intrusion.”

The attack inspired Squires to set up an initiative called “Pull Your Pants Up” that will provide adult mentors for troubled youth, although she said Tuesday she has not been able to focus on it because of health troubles.

“It’s hard,” she said. “I’m just trying to get better.”

Squires said she has been grateful for all the help from family and friends from church following the home invasion and now lives with a friend who is her tenant. She is trying hard to move on, but Squires said she has felt defeated lately because of her problems with walking.

“This gritty granny isn’t so gritty anymore,” Squires said.

January’s incident is hard to forget for Squires, who vividly remembers having her throat slashed and being smothered with a pillow.

“I just kept saying, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’ and pretty soon I felt the strength draining from him and he dropped the pillow and ran,” Squires said in a previous interview with TimesLedger Newspapers.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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