Westmoreland jurors hear Hempfield man describe assault on live-in girlfriend
A bowl of dumped Ramen noodles enraged Keith Kruel.
Westmoreland County jurors listened to a 17-minute tape on Tuesday to hear Kruel tell police he became so angered during a dispute in his Hempfield home after those instant noodles were dumped on the floor that he kicked his live-in girlfriend like a football.
“It wasn't as hard as I could kick, but it was a pretty good kick, like kicking a football,” Kruel told police.
Jurors heard Kruel's taped statement to police during the first day of testimony in his first-degree murder trial. Prosecutors contend Kruel, 39, killed 40-year-old Tina Marie Ohler on Nov. 13, 2011, after they argued following a night of drinking in two local bars.
Kruel originally told police he passed out on a couch and awoke to find Ohler dead. Paramedics were called by his sister the next morning, according to police.
State police Trooper Ray Andrekanic testified that Kruel gave a series of conflicting statements over three days. He initially denied any involvement in Ohler's death but eventually admitted that he pushed her face into a wall, dragged her across the floor by her hair and repeatedly kicked her in the head and back, the officer testified.
The fight started when Ohler dumped the noodles on the kitchen floor after Kruel refused to eat. He had originally requested the late-night snack, according to police.
Kruel said he wiped blood off the floors and walls and cleaned up the spilled noodles before rescue crews arrived the next morning, Andrekanic testified.
Three days after the suspect's arrest, the trooper testified, Kruel told police: “I killed her. I feel a lot better now that I told what happened. I know I killed her, but I didn't intend to kill her. I can't believe I killed a person I love.”
In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Pete Flanagan told jurors that Kruel intended to kill his girlfriend in the course of the stormy, sometimes violent relationship.
“If you do it over and over again to someone you've hurt before, you've revealed through your conduct your intent,” Flanagan said.
Kruel faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of first-degree murder.
Defense attorney L.A. Smith told jurors that Kruel killed Ohler as he acted in a negligent, reckless manner, without intent.
“There is no doubt the actions of Mr. Kruel that night were reprehensible. He wishes he could take them back,” Smith said in his opening statement. “The evidence will show that Keith Kruel is guilty of nothing more than voluntary manslaughter.”
Andrekanic will be cross-examined by Smith when the trial reconvenes on Wednesday afternoon.
Westmoreland County Judge John E. Blahovec told jurors to report for court at noon because of weather forecasts calling for heavy snow overnight.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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.
- Housing market remains ‘disaster’ in Westmoreland County
- Westmoreland judges’ caseloads unlikely to affect district boundary changes
- New Ohiopyle park manager ready for big challenge that comes with job
- ‘Extreme extrovert’ takes over at WCCC
- Northampton man has four major drug arrests in Western Pa. since 2009
- Mt. Pleasant seeks on-street bike trail through downtown
- Jeannette traffic stop leads to drug charges
- Mt. Pleasant alumni lead campaign to buy handicapped-accessible van for former classmate
- Chemical mix sickens two from South Greensburg
- New Stanton rejects road work bids
- Medical pot advocates speak up at meeting with Sen. Folmer in Export