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Suspect in killing of armored-car partner switches to non-jury trial

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 12:20 p.m.
Ken Konias in custody in April 2012.

Opening statements are set to begin Friday in the homicide trial of a Dravosburg man accused of killing his fellow armored-car guard and fleeing to Florida with $2.3 million.

Ken Konias Jr., 23, is charged with killing Michael Haines, 31, inside their truck on Feb. 28, 2012. Investigators said Konias ditched the truck under the 31st Street Bridge and fled to Pompano Beach, Fla., where FBI agents and police arrested him several weeks later, on April 23. Police recovered some of the money.

Common Pleas Judge David Cashman dismissed the three jurors Konias' attorney Charles LoPresti and Assistant District Attorney Rob Schupansky selected on Thursday afternoon when Konias decided to go with a non-jury trial.

LoPresti did not return calls. He has said his client shot Haines in self-defense.

Wes Oliver, a Duquesne University law professor, said it's likely that LoPresti or Konias “didn't like what they were seeing from the jury or the jury pool.”

“One of them made a calculation that Cashman would be better than what they have seen in the preliminary selection,” Oliver said.

Konias can change his mind again anytime before Schupansky calls his first of about 40 witnesses that include federal, local and Florida law enforcement officers. The DA's office is not seeking the death penalty at the request of Haines' family.

In the six weeks between Haines' death and Konias' arrest in the seedy Pompano Beach neighborhood of Cypress, Konias spent money on prostitutes and strippers, and traded drugs for sex. He used taxis to get around the coastal town 10 miles north of Fort Lauderdale and used a fake name and false identification.

Investigators said they recovered about $1.3 million in cash from a storage unit near a house he rented.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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