Day 1 Of Testimony In Armored Vehicle Heist Trial Focuses On Tracing Suspect’s Steps
PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The trial is underway for a former armored vehicle guard charged with killing his work partner and stealing $2.3 million in a heist last year.
The trial for 24-year-old Kenneth Konias Jr. had been scheduled to begin Tuesday, but was bumped up to Friday after Konias decided he wanted a judge, not a jury, to decide his fate.
The Dravosburg man was arrested in Florida about two months after the Feb. 28, 2012 heist.
Prosecutors contend Konias fatally shot partner Michael Haines before stealing money from their Garda Cash Logistics vehicle, and is guilty of first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence.
During the trial Friday, prosecutor Robert Schupansky said, “He never calls 911. He calls a friend and asks, ‘What if I told you you never had to work again.'”
He later went on to say, “There was no struggle. He was shot in the back of the head three to 12 inches away.”
He went on to say that Konias bragged in jail about his partner getting a bullet to the brain.
“The only victim in this case is Mike Haines,” Schupansky said. “The only thing Konias is a victim to is his own greed.”
However, defense attorney Charles LoPesti contradicted that claim, saying Haines started a fight between the two men.
“Haines threw the money scanner at Konias and that starts a fight,” he said. “Haines swore at Konias and said, ‘I ought to kill you.’ In the struggle Konias shoots his gun to stop the threat. He acted in a needless rage. But Konias knew if he gave him a second chance, it was either him or Haines.”
Konias has insisted he argued with Haines and shot him in self-defense before taking off with the money. Prosecutors say physical evidence makes that implausible.
Meanwhile, Rodney Shockey came to court wearing the same kind of uniform Haines, wore the day he was killed and other Garda employees wear now.
He testified that a friend of an employee noticed that a Garda armored truck was parked underneath the 31st Street Bridge at 1:30 p.m., and when that friend returned at 3:30 p.m., it was still there.
Shockey came out to investigate, expecting to find two employees possibly killing time to pad their time cards. He couldn’t have expected what he did find.
“I peered in the window and looked in the messenger door,” Shockey said on the stand. “I saw a puddle of blood on the ground. I called my boss to get the master keys, then peered in and that’s when I saw Mr. Haines. He was hunched down facing the rear. I was yelling, ‘Mike!’ after I pounded on the window and got no response. Mike’s ID was still clipped to his chest. His shirt was tucked in.”
That last description bolstered the prosecution’s contention that there was not a violent struggle between Haines, who was shot at close range in the back of the head and Konias.
Konias, through his defense attorney, claims that when Haines got frustrated with a money scanner that didn’t work, he threw it at Konias while he drove the truck and that started the fatal fight.
Much of Friday’s testimony focused on tracing Konias’ steps.
Police say a surveillance picture shows Konias walking rapidly through the Garda employee parking lot just after he left his truck under the bridge with Haines inside.
Another one shows him getting ready to get into his SUV, beginning a trip that would eventually end in Florida.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)