Rape, bomb defendant found guilty
Both the victim of Worthington bomb suspect Keith Kammerdeiner and members of his own family shed tears of joy after an emotional and bizarre trial left him convicted of raping his estranged girlfriend at knifepoint while threatening her with an improvised explosive device.
“He's an animal and justice has prevailed,” said Kammerdeiner's brother-in-law, Brenton Bish of Hawthorn. “This isn't the first girl he's done this to. This is just the first one to actually do something about it.”
A jury of nine women and three men deliberated for an hour before convicting Kammerdeiner, 39, on charges of rape by forcible compulsion, aggravated assault, aggravated indecent assault, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, indecent assault and risking a catastrophe for the incident that occurred last October at a house along Main Street in Worthington. One count of simple assault was dropped and he was found not guilty of another.
The proceedings Thursday at the Armstrong County Courthouse proved to be nearly as strange as the crimes for which Kammerdeiner was on trial. The trial was delayed about 30 minutes because of an undisclosed issue with Kammerdeiner, who repeatedly drew attention to himself through strange movements, repeated outbursts — which included applauding after his attorney's opening statement — and multiple occasions when he had to be escorted out of the courtroom because of apparent illness.
At one point, Kammerdeiner reportedly passed out in a restroom and had to be treated by EMS personnel. Public defender James Wray moved for a mistrial, but Kammerdeiner insisted he could carry on.
“That whole act is just history repeating himself,” said Bish. “It's always been ‘poor Keith.' I'm just glad that (Armstrong County President Judge Kenneth Valasek) was able to see through it.”
The verdict brings a sense of closure to an ordeal that began about 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 11 when Kammerdeiner unexpectedly showed up at the home of his former girlfriend. The Leader Times does not reveal the names of victims of sexual assault. The woman, who was 27 at the time of the incident, testified that she had dated Kammerdeiner for a year-and-a-half but broke up with him in April 2012 because of his increasingly violent behavior. She said Kammerdeiner then attempted to reconcile on two different occasions: once in September when he had to be removed from her place of work and again the day before the incident when he asked her to meet him for breakfast at King's Restaurant in Sarver.
The following morning, after she returned from walking her 5-year-old son to a school bus stop, she said she found Kammerdeiner at the foot of her steps. She said she allowed him inside and made scrambled eggs for him, but that Kammerdeiner became enraged when she told him to leave.
She testified he sprayed mace in her face and pulled a large knife from his backpack saying, “You're not going anywhere.”
District Attorney Scott Andreassi said that during the following six hours, Kammerdeiner bound the woman with zip ties and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint.
“This is a story of a man who didn't get it,” said Andreassi. “No means no. When he didn't get it, he made sure she would get it.”
The victim said Kammerdeiner wanted three days alone with her and demanded to know what she had been doing since their break-up.
“He said every time I lied, he'd stab me in a different place and that he knew how to do it and keep me alive,” she testified. “He said he (originally) intended to have my son there and was going to cut him up in front of me.”
Kammerdeiner later showed the victim an improvised explosive device that Lawrence Smither of the Allegheny County Bomb Squad testified was a 3-inch prescription pill bottle filled with carpet tacks, gun powder, nitroglycerin and ammonium nitrate. The victim said Kammerdeiner intended to use the bomb on police when they arrived.
At about 2:30 p.m. that day, while Kammerdeiner was distracted searching through the victim's cell phone, she said she managed to break away and ran across the street to Long's Market where police were called.
Kammerdeiner then fled the house, dropping the bomb in bushes about a block away. He was apprehended later that night at a Pittsburgh T station but waited a week to tell investigators where he left the device. The bomb squad located it on Oct. 17 and disabled it in a remote area.
During his own testimony, a combative Kammerdeiner admitted to all of the allegations except that he had raped the victim. He claimed the sex was consensual and said things only turned bad when he began looking through the victim's cell phone and she cut him in the face with a knife out of anger. Kammerdeiner did sustain a wound to his face, but prosecutors allege he received it during the scuffle to restrain the victim.
“I acted irrationally,” said Kammerdeiner. “But as far as rape, I didn't do one iota of that.”
During the district attorney's closing statement, Andreassi told the jury to ignore Kammerdeiner's “fantastical” story.
“You're supposed to feel safe in your own home,” he said. “But that day, (the victim's) home became her prison.”
Kammerdeiner is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 24.
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.