Hempfield man accused of killing girlfriend loses bid to have trial delayed
A Hempfield man accused of beating his girlfriend to death during an argument over spilled noodles will stand trial on Monday, a Westmoreland County judge has ruled.
Keith Allen Kruel, 39, of 8012 Elkart St., Wendel, asked Judge John Blahovec on Monday afternoon to delay his criminal homicide trial.
Kruel allegedly killed Tina Marie Ohler, 40, in November 2011 in the apartment they shared.
“I'd like more time, because my life might be in jeopardy,” Kruel said during a status conference on his case. “It's hard for me to understand some words because I'm not educated.”
Kruel said that one of his defense attorneys, L.A. Smith, represented Ohler in a 2005 case where both were accused of luring a teenage girl to their home and plying her with alcohol so Kruel could have sex with her. Ohler, who pleaded guilty to corruption of minors, said she helped lure the girl out of fear of Kruel.
Kruel believed Smith's prior defense of the victim is a conflict of interest.
Blahovec said he believed there was no conflict and, in fact, Smith's knowledge of the victim's history might help Kruel.
“He has been your attorney since this started, and you raise it now,” Blahovec said. “He's been your attorney all along. ... There's nothing here that could hurt you.”
Blahovec said attorneys from both sides have met throughout the case with each other and with him to keep things on track.
“If I had to sit down and draw up a way that a case would be presented, this would be it,” Blahovec said in denying Kruel's request to delay the trial.
Jury selection in Kruel's case is set to begin on Monday. Attorneys expect it to last a week.
The prosecution is expected to present evidence that Kruel and Ohler argued after a night of bar-hopping.
Kruel had passed out on the couch as Ohler was cooking noodles. Ohler threw the noodles after she awakened Kruel to eat and he told her he was no longer hungry.
Kruel allegedly pushed Ohler when she refused to clean up the mess, police said.
Kruel admitted to police that Ohler struck her head or face on the door frame when he pushed her. He said she fell to the floor, and he kicked her in the face and chest, police allege.
Kruel said he slept on the living room couch, and Ohler was dead when he woke up, according to police.
The couple had a history of domestic disputes during their 10-year relationship, police and Ohler's family members have said.
Ohler's face had to be reconstructed after a beating from Kruel in 2010, family members have said.
Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hempfield man receives long-overdue Bronze Star for World War II service
- Charges advance for men accused in police scuffle at Fort Ligonier Days
- Arnold man’s molestation conviction upheld
- Longtime Greensburg District Judge Albert will seek fifth term
- Endowment of $3.49B makes University of Pittsburgh 25th richest in U.S.
- Woman pays $178 fine for Westmoreland courthouse conduct
- 3 injured in 2-vehicle accident on Arona Road in Hempfield
- Geyer Performing Arts Center hosts AAFC production of ‘Murder on the Nile’
- Youngwood advances grease trap ordinance
- IRS scam snares another Westmoreland County resident
- Westmoreland County settles with fired public defender