BALLSTON SPA – Georgios Kakavelos was initially cooperative but then became less forthcoming during his first interview about the disappearance of employee Allyzibeth Lamont, raising suspicions, a state police investigator testified Tuesday in Saratoga County Court,
The jury in Kakavelos’ trial for first-degree murder in connection with Lamont’s death saw a video recording of Kakavelos’ first interview at the Gloversville Police Department on Oct. 30, 2019, and also the recording of an interview the night of Oct. 31 – after Lamont’s body had been found, in a wet area off Northway Exit 13 in Saratoga County.
The fourth day of trial testimony was dominated by state police Inv. Darin Jones and the showing of the two interviews Jones participated in at the Gloversville Police Department, as a missing person investigation involving the 22-year-old Lamont morphed on Oct. 31 into a murder investigation.
Kakavelos, 52, the owner of the Local No. 9 Substation in Johnstown, is accused of arranging with shop manager James Duffy to kill Lamont, of Gloversville. She was killed by blows to the head on Oct. 28, 2019, shortly after closing hour at the shop.
The men allegedly drove to Saratoga County and disposed of a baseball bat believed to be one of the murder weapons on a remote road in Galway, and shallowly buried the body off the southbound entrance ramp to the Northway in Malta. Other evidence was disposed of at other locations in the county, prosecutors said.
Both Kakavelos and Duffy, 35, of Johnstown, were indicted for first-degree murder and evidence tampering. Duffy in April pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, in exchange for his anticipated testimony against Kakavelos. Duffy is expected to be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. If Kakavelos is convicted of first-degree murder, he could receive a sentence of life without possibility of parole.
During the Oct. 30 interview, which lasted more than two hours, Kakavelos told Jones and a Gloversville police investigator that he and Duffy had been away picking up a new oven most of the day on Oct. 28. Lamont, who had worked that day, left the sub shop before he did, he said, having been given $500 he had agreed to loan her to help her get an apartment.
But later in the interview, when the investigators asked to see if they could find in-store security camera footage on his cellphone, Kakavelos resisted. He eventually agreed to let an investigator download any security camera footage, but then balked at letting police listen to a 36-minute phone conversation he had with Duffy on Oct. 29, the day after the alleged killing.
“Conversations are private, and I’m going to stick by that,” Kakavelos said, a few minutes before the investigators ended the interview, expressing their frustration with him.
“At the beginning of the interview I believed Mr. Kakavelos, but toward the middle and end of the interview, I realized there were multiple inconsistencies … He was not really being cooperative,” Jones said during his testimony, under direct examination by Assistant District Attorney Alan Poremba.
When Kakavelos came voluntarily for a second interview on the night of Oct. 31, Duffy, according to earlier testimony, had already led police to the body and other hidden evidence. But police didn’t tell Kakavelos, though they implied there were new developments.
“The reason we’re here is … We want to hear your side of the story,” Jones told Kakavelos. “We know what happened. We have a lot of evidence now.”
Kakavelos, who was read his Miranda rights at the beginning of the interview, replies that he won’t answer any questions he was already asked the day before, because he fears “making a mistake.”
“You’re making me feel uncomfortable, very very uncomfortable,” Kakavelos says at one point. “What I told you two days ago, I think you should build your case on that.”
The interview lasted about 45 minutes, with Kakavelos seeming to speak freely about the sub shop’s business struggles, his immigration from Greece, and about his issues with Duffy’s heavy drinking. He was not told that Lamont was dead, or asked directly whether he had killed her, but he was arrested that night.
Defense attorney Kevin O’Brien said in his opening statement that Duffy alone committed the murder, and then used threats to get Kakavelos to help him clean the scene and dispose of evidence.
When cross-examined by O’Brien, Jones acknowledged that Duffy didn’t implicate Kakavelos until Jones told him that Kakavelos was also being interviewed, and was “squealing like a pig” – a statement Jones acknowledged was a lie. “I take it as trying to get the truth out of individuals,” Jones explained.
Jones also said he couldn’t recall if he was aware at that time that Duffy had a juvenile conviction for forcible rape in Pennsylvania. He also acknowledged saying during the interview that he would “see what he could do” to get beer for Duffy, whom he said he believes is an alcoholic. He did not, however, get beer for Duffy.
The trial, being overseen by County Court Judge James A. Murphy III, will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, with state police Inv. Donald Klingbeil on the witness stand.
Klingbeil began his testimony late Tuesday, saying he photographed the baseball bat found in shallow water in a swampy area off Dean Lung Road in Galway. He also spent about two hours the night of Oct. 31, after Duffy had taken police to the various evidence scenes, interviewing Duffy for what became Duffy’s written statement, implicating both himself and Kakavelos.