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Prosecution is building case against Konias

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Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 1:36 a.m.
 

The trial for accused killer and armored truck robber Kenneth J. Konias Jr. took a break on Friday.

When court recessed on Thursday afternoon, more than two dozen witnesses had taken the stand during four days of testimony.

Konias, 23, of Dravosburg is charged with shooting his Garda Cash Logistics workmate Michael R. Haines, 31, of East McKeesport to death in the back of an armored truck on Feb. 28, 2012, then stealing and fleeing with $2.3 million.

When FBI agents caught up with him two months later in Pompano Beach, Fla., Konias allegedly was trying to obtain false identification so that he could escape to Haiti.

According to testimony, Konias told FBI agents on the day of his arrest that he shot Haines in self-defense when Haines pulled his own service pistol.

Defense attorney Charles LoPresti has stood by the argument, maintaining that Konias used poor judgment and took the money only as an afterthought.

Prosecutor Robert Schupansky said evidence and testimony don't support the defense's claim.

Schupansky has used testimony from FBI agents and local police, Garda employees and friends of the defendant to argue that the heist was premeditated. Two friends and a Florida woman whom Konias paid $2,000 a day for sex all testified that he was obsessed with a 2010 movie called “The Town,” which depicts an armored car robbery.

Employees from Rivers Casino said Konias wasn't his usual, chatty self when he picked up deposits the morning of the heist and that he deviated from his normal course of business when he put the money in a different part of the truck.

An employee from Home Depot in Ross Park Mall testified that he heard a gunshot as he was getting out of his car to go to work on the day of the robbery. The employee could be seen in a surveillance video presented at trial that showed the Garda truck parked in a corner section of the parking lot.

Prosecutors and police believe Konias shot Haines in the back of the head while the truck was at Home Depotk, and that Konias then drove the truck to the Strip District, where he parked it under the 31st Street Bridge, just blocks away from Garda headquarters.

A security camera at Garda captured images of Konias running into the parking lot, getting into his SUV and driving quickly out of the lot. Konias allegedly returned to the armored truck and took the money, leaving Haines' body slumped into a door and bleeding.

Konias allegedly left a trail of money behind for family and a friend before he fled.

Investigators recovered $252,000 from the home Konias shared with his parents on Euclid Avenue in Dravosburg.

They recovered $24,000 at the site of Konias' grandmother's grave in Homestead Cemetery.

They found $10,000 in a work boot on the porch at one of Konias' friend's homes.

Entered as evidence was a photo of a suitcase containing $1,010,200 that Konias was keeping in a storage facility near his apartment in Florida.

Large amounts of cash he allegedly had stashed at other locations were detailed in court.

The trial is slated to resume on Monday before Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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