Hammer attack survivor: 'He took my freedom from me'

With her fingers and hands still bandaged and broke, plus scars covering her head, leg and arms Whitney Fansler is struggling to do simple things such as open a door know, or pick up glass.

"Things that people can do on a daily basis, I can't do," said Whitney Fansler

She can't forget the brutal moments of being attacked with a hammer last month. Her former roommate in Forest Lake, Justin Cardinal, had been released from prison just eight weeks before the attack.

"He took a lot from me. He took my freedom from me. He made everything a lot worse for me than what it had to be."

The attack unfolded November 20 after Cardinal's landlord says he was hit with the same hammer pick earlier that day. Trying to ease the situation Fansler gave Cardinal and his girlfriend a ride to Running Aces, but after criticizing her driving and taking over the wheel Fansler says the car ended up in the ditch. When Fansler called a friend for help Cardinal erupted.

"He just went and attacked me and the look in his eyes is a look I cannot forget. All I could see was like a demon took over him. His eyes were completely black," she said.

While Fansler was rushed to the hospital where she underwent surgery. Meanwhile Cardinal hid from police in nearby woods while Anoka County authorizes searched for him for hours. Cardinal was eventually located in a garage after a search using a helicopter. Police report he suffered from some signs of frostbite.

On what happens to be Cardinal's 34th birthday Anoka County prosecutors announced a plea deal. Cardinal pleaded guilty to second degree assault. As part of the plea agreement, Cardinal agreed to classification as a violent offender and faces significant prison time. Prosecutors plan to ask the judge for 10 years in prison.

"This is was an unprovoked attack, driven by uncontrolled anger, which resulted in significant injuries to an innocent victim," said Anoka County attorney Tony Palumbo. "We are satisfied that the plea agreement results in justice."

Fansler says she would like to see Cardinal be charged with attempted murder, and ever more time in prison.

"Because when I was in the hospital the doctors in the ER said if he would have hit me harder in one spot in my head. he could have paralyzed me or he could have killed me. So I think he should have gotten charged with attempted murder," says Fansler.

How you can help

Fansler continues to go through physical therapy and hopes to get pins removed from her hands soon. However, she's no longer be covered by her parent's health insurance starting in February. Friends have started a fund to help her out.