BALLSTON SPA – A police interview with Johnstown sandwich shop manager James Duffy on Oct. 31, 2019, led police to a baseball bat and other evidence crucial to solving a Gloversville woman’s murder, a state police investigator testified Monday.
Inv. Darin Jones testified in Saratoga County Court that Duffy, who has since confessed in court to participating in killing 22-year-old Allyzibeth Lamont at the sub shop where both worked, provided information that led state police and Gloversville city police investigators to several evidence sites in Saratoga County.
Jones was the primary witness on Monday, which was the third day of testimony in the murder trial of Georgios Kakavelos, the owner of the Local No. 9 Smokehouse and Substation. The trial began last Wednesday.
The baseball bat believed to be one of the murder weapons was found in a swampy area off Dean Lung Road in Galway, about a half-hour from Johnstown. Plastic bags containing evidence were located hidden in the woods a little further down the road, and also on Rowland Street in Milton. During the same trip, Duffy brought police to the southbound entrance ramp of Northway Exit 13 in Malta, Jones said.
Jones did not say what evidence was found in the marshy area off Exit 13 that evening, but authorities say that’s where Lamont’s body was found, leading to the arrest of Duffy and Kakavelos later that night.
Lamont was allegedly killed with bat and hammer blows to the head at the sub shop after it closed on Oct. 28. She was reported missing late the next day by a friend, leading to a police missing person investigation.
Kakavelos, 52, of Milton, is on trial in County Court for first-degree murder and tampering with evidence. The first-degree charge is based on his allegedly paying Duffy to kill Lamont, who was an employee purportedly threatening to report labor law violations. If convicted of first-degree murder, Kakavelos could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Duffy, who was also initially charged with first-degree murder, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is expected to be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison in exchange for cooperating in the case against Kakavelos.
Both Duffy and Kakavelos were interviewed by police on Oct. 30 as part of the missing person investigation, and they were re-interviewed the next day, Oct. 31.
Jones, a major crimes investigator based at Troop G headquarters in Latham, said that the evidence was collected on the afternoon of Oct. 31, after Duffy’s second interview. Duffy spent about five hours being interviewed at the Gloversville police station before accompanying a caravan of three police vehicles to the Saratoga County locations where evidence was discovered.
Jones was also one of the investigators who interviewed Kakavelos at the Gloversville station, first on Oct. 30, when Jones said he was not a suspect, and then the night of Oct. 31, when the body had been discovered and he was a suspect. At the end of the second interview, Kakavelos was arrested for murder.
“There was a lot of information from Mr. Kakavelos that was inconsistent with other information coming in at that time,” Jones testified under direct examination by Assistant District Attorney Alan Poremba.
The investigator described Kakavelos’ demeanor during his first interview and at the start of the second interview as calm. “He was calm, collected, he spoke with us, he was not in any agitated state or anything like that,” he testified concerning the start of the second interview.
A video recording of about an hour of Kakavelos’ first interview with police was played for the jury before court ended for the day. The playing of the tape will continue on Tuesday.
During the interview, Kakavelos several times referred to Lamont, who went by “Ally,” as “Alison,” and he said he didn’t know her last name. But speaking in heavily accented English, he praised her work quality, while at another point saying that once after not reporting to work, she told him she used crack cocaine.
“She was my best, she knew it, I would tell her that…But she was a troubled girl,” he said.
Kakavelos said he and Duffy were away, picking up a newly purchased oven, most of the day on Oct. 28 and didn’t get to Johnstown until around 5 p.m. Lamont worked that day, and left the shop before him, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., he said. She left angry because she didn’t want to clean up a large soda spill from a malfunctioning machine, he said.
He also told the investigators that Duffy, his store manager, was frequently drunk, and was drinking at the shop after they got there. “I have never seen him with drugs, I have seen him with beer, and liquor,” Kakavelos said. “We have arguments, they are not work arguments, like when he talks back to me.”
Kakavelos’ defense is that Duffy, 35, of Johnstown, committed the murder, and then threatened Kakavelos and his family in order to get Kakavelos’ help in cleaning up, hiding evidence, and disposing of the body.
Kakavelos also told the investigators he never had any sexual relationship with Lamont.
He also testified that he told Duffy that day to give Lamont $500 in cash from the register — a loan, he said, to help her get an apartment. Whether she actually received the money is unclear.
Also Monday, Gloversville police Inv. Christopher Zink narrated a security camera video that showed two people backing up a vehicle that looked like Kakavelos’ Volkswagen Passat to the sub shop’s entrance at 9:42 p.m. on Oct. 28. The video appeared to show something being loaded into the hatchback, and the vehicle then leaving. It returns about 1 a.m., and at least one person enters the sub shop for a few minutes. The car then leaves, while someone else leaves by a taxi.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Kevin O’Brien, Zink acknowledged that the people can’t be identified from the video, and he doesn’t know what the people in the video were saying.
The trial, one of the few to be held in the Capital Region since courts re-opened in the wake of a COVID pandemic-related shutdown, is being held with jurors sitting socially distanced throughout the courtroom, and news organizations, including the Daily Gazette, viewing the proceedings via remote video feed. County Court Judge James A. Murphy III is presiding.