Michael Paranay told police he was "pretty intoxicated" when who he believed was a "big, humongous dude" knocked his chicken shish kebabs and cell phone out of his hands on the South Side just before 3 a.m. on June 1.
"I was getting all hyped up," he said during a recorded interview with detectives two days later, "jumping around, drunk, and I ran, jumped in the air, and punched him.
"And once I punched him, I ran for my life, because I knew if he got a hold of me, I was done."
Mr. Paranay, along with Dquay Means and Jerrell Whitlock, are accused of attempted homicide and related charges after police said they were trying to steal the truck of Steelers offensive lineman Mike Adams when they stabbed Mr. Adams at 17th and East Carson streets.
Their jury trial began Tuesday before Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani. It is expected to continue into next week.
The defense contends there was no attempted robbery, and instead it was a fight over Mr. Paranay's spilled chicken.
During his 71/2-minute police interview, Mr. Paranay said he ran into Mr. Means and Mr. Whitlock when he was out on the South Side that night, and that he knew them from the neighborhood. He said he never saw any weapons during the altercation.
But that's counter to Mr. Adams' testimony on Wednesday. He told the jury that Mr. Means showed him a gun and threatened to shoot him, and that Mr. Whitlock stabbed him in his lower right abdomen.
A doctor testified Thursday that the wound lacerated his colon, was about 4 to 5 inches deep and required surgery.
Assistant district attorney Chris Stone also played the statement made by Mr. Means to detectives.
Counter to Mr. Adams' testimony that he used a valet service to park his truck that night, Mr. Means said that just before the incident occurred Mr. Adams pulled up in his truck on the corner.
"He just hop out. I hear a little white dude say something to him, you know it's kind of disrespectful, too," he said. "And, uh, you know we're all intoxicated, so Mike ... was ... talking back to the dude. ... And you know I'm trying to defuse the situation.
"I'm telling everybody to like, back up, because I see this little white dude about to get pummeled by this big black dude."
Mr. Means said that's when he saw the man later identified as Mr. Paranay punch Mr. Adams.
"After that, like, I seen it and didn't want to see what happened after that. ... So I leave the scene."
Also testifying Thursday was a former Gainesville, Fla., police detective who was on the fugitive task force that arrested Mr. Whitlock last year.
Raymond Barber, who retired in November, said that when Mr. Whitlock was arrested, he kept asking officers why they were looking for him.
Mr. Whitlock then said, " 'It's not like we were going to rob him. He came out wanting to fight. He got the worst of it.' "
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.