This photograph was entered into evidence today in the trial for Kenneth Konias, accused of killing Garda armored truck employee Michael Haines. Investigators identified the person highlighted in this image as Kenneth Konias.
This photo was entered into evidence today in the trial for Kenneth Konias, accused of killing Garda armored truck employee Michael Haines. Investigators identified the person highlighted in image as Konias.
Broward County Sheriff
Kenneth Konias Jr., 23, after his arrest in Florida.
This photo was entered into evidence today in the trial for Kenneth Konias, accused of killing Garda armored truck employee Michael Haines.
By Liz Navratil / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Rodney Shockey sat behind Garda Cash Logistics Truck No. 5678 for about 10 seconds before he walked up to confront the workers.
Someone had called an employee a few minutes earlier to report they'd seen the truck sitting underneath the 31st Street Bridge with its flashers on for two hours.
"I figured I was going to find a couple guys cheating their time cards," Mr. Shockey, the company's former trucking manager, testified Friday.
Instead, he found 31-year-old Michael Haines propped against one of the doors with blood running down his head.
"I pounded on the windows a couple times and noticed he wasn't moving. I was yelling, 'Mike.' "
Kenneth Konias, 23, who was by chance assigned to work with Haines that day, was missing and so was more than $2.3 million in cash, coins and checks.
"We figured either he fled or somebody else was involved that took him," Mr. Shockey said.
The prosecutor and the defense attorney now agree that Mr. Konias killed Haines Feb. 28, 2012, and fled to Pompano Beach, Fla., using much of the stolen money on strippers and prostitutes. They argue over the motive.
Defense attorney Charles LoPresti told Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman, who is presiding over the nonjury trial, that the shooting happened in self-defense and the robbery was an "afterthought" that occurred because Mr. Konias was a "scared 22-year-old."
Assistant district attorney Robert Schupansky said the killing was an execution carried out on a day when Garda picks up some of its largest loads and when Mr. Konias' normal partner, who was familiar with the pick-up route, was on vacation.
Mr. LoPresti told the court Mr. Konias did not pre-plan killing Haines and the two got into an argument and then a physical fight because a scanner in their armored truck was not working. Haines used obscenities, the attorney said, and made a remark that he "oughta kill" Mr. Konias.
Haines, the attorney said, threw the scanner into Mr. Konias' back and Mr. Konias stopped the truck in the Home Depot parking lot in Ross. Mr. Konias shoved Haines, who fell against the truck, Mr. LoPresti said.
"Mr. Haines unholstered his side arm and points it at Mr. Konias," the attorney said. "Konias knocks the gun out of Mr. Haines' hand, and it falls into the rear area of the hopper. Konias pulls out his gun, as he'd been trained to do, and instinctively ... as [Haines] is reaching for the gun, Mr. Konias shoots his gun. One shot, which was all that was needed to stop the threat."
But Mr. Schupansky told the court in his opening that there was no evidence to support the notion that a struggle occurred inside the truck or to support an argument for self-defense.
When Mr. Shockey spotted Haines inside the truck, his uniform shirt was tucked in and his ID badge -- attached to a lanyard meant to break open if someone pulls on it -- remained intact, looped around his neck, Mr. Shockey said.
Several light postal boxes sitting in the truck remained upright, he and a detective said, and the scanner used to keep track of money remained in its charger.
"Nothing was in disarray in the truck except the paper towels that were near the door," Pittsburgh homicide Detective Peg Sherwood testified.
Mr. LoPresti said the paper towels found near Haines' body were used by Mr. Konias in an attempt to render aid before he left the crime scene. Others pointed out that the blood on Haines' bald head -- the location of his only gunshot wound -- was not smeared.
Mr. Schupansky said of Mr. Konias, "The only thing he's a victim of is his own greed."
In the year and a half since Haines' death, Mr. Konias has packed on dozens of extra pounds and obtained tattoos of money bags on his hand. He has bragged of his actions in the Allegheny County Jail, Mr. Schupansky said.
The Garda workers have returned to their daily duties, some still working in truck No. 5678. Mr. Shockey has taken a step down, leaving his role as a manager at Garda for one as a driver or messenger.
"One of my main jobs as a manager is to make sure my guys come in and go home safe," he said. "That day, one of my guys didn't come home safe."
Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Staff writer Paula Reed Ward contributed. First Published November 8, 2013 11:54 AM
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