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Judge: Verdict coming in Pa. armored car heist

November 19, 2013
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A judge planned to deliver his verdict Tuesday in the trial of a former Pittsburgh-area armored car guard charged with killing another guard before stealing $2.3 million from the truck last year.

Allegheny County Judge David Cashman was to return in the afternoon with his verdict after reviewing six days of testimony, and closing arguments by attorneys Tuesday morning.

Defense attorney Charles LoPresti contended that Kenneth Konias Jr., 24, of Dravosburg, shot fellow guard Michael Haines in self-defense during an argument inside the armored car, then stole the money as an afterthought because Konias realized he'd need to pay for a life on the lam.

But Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Robert Schupansky argued that Konias executed Haines — holding up a gun and a ruler showing its muzzle just 6 inches from the rear of a Styrofoam mannequin head — to illustrate his claim that Konias purposely killed Haines.

"This case is about selfishness, not self-defense," Schupansky told the judge. The evidence showed Konias was "not happy with who he was," had researched suing his employer, Garda Cash Logistics, and watched movies and searched online about armored car heists, the prosecutor argued.

"He wanted the money. He wanted to take the money. And Mr. Haines, unfortunately, your honor, was in the way," Schupansky said.

Schupansky contended Konias, who was familiar with that day's route while Haines was not, planned the heist knowing they'd be picking up more money than normal at their first stop on Feb. 28, 2012, at Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino. That's because it was a Tuesday, when the casino typically deposited money from the previous weekend.

After their stops were completed early that afternoon, Konias shot Haines in the back of the head at close range while the armored car was in a suburban shopping mall lot, then sped back to Pittsburgh where Konias left the truck, went and got his SUV and unloaded the money, then drove to Florida, Schupansky said.

FBI agents and county homicide detectives had testified the inside of the truck and Haines' clothing and personal belongings showed no signs of a fight or struggle, which Konias contends occurred before he shot Haines. Konias acknowledges killing Haines, but told the FBI it was in self-defense when Haines pulled a gun after they argued about a computerized scanner that wasn't working properly as Haines tried to use it to keep track of the money they picked up.

But LoPresti argued there's no way to know if the inside of the truck was the same as it was when Haines was shot in the suburbs and when police found it — with its motor running and Haines' lifeless body inside — hours later and miles away in downtown Pittsburgh.

"A conclusion was reached in this case," LoPresti argued, "and evidence was sought to support the conclusion they had already reached."

"It was as if no plan existed judge, and that's because no plan did," said LoPresti, who asked the judge to find Konias not guilty of first-degree murder, a premeditated, malicious killing that carries and automatic life prison sentence.

But Schupansky said Konias wasn't the "scared kid making stupid decisions" LoPresti claimed, but a scheming robber and murderer who blew some of the money he stole while hiding in Florida for two months before his arrest.

"His idea of mourning the death of Michael Haines was spending money on a Rolex watch, on call girls and at strip clubs," Schupansky said.



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