BALLSTON SPA – The Saratoga County Court jury hearing the first-degree murder case against sandwich shop owner Georgios Kakavelos on Thursday saw videos of Kakavelos at the Gloversville Walmart, where he made potentially suspicious purchases both before and after shop employee Allyzibeth Lamont was killed on Oct. 28, 2019.
A former Walmart loss prevention officer testified to video and receipt evidence that Kakavelos was at the store from 4:37 p.m. to 5:03 p.m. that day, making purchases that included two bags of fertilizer and thermal clothing, including gloves that may be linked to the crime. The witness, Noah Bailey, also testified that Kakavelos was back at the store from 8:17 p.m. to 8:27 p.m., shortly after Lamont was killed, to make a $73.25 purchase that included Clorox wipes, microfiber paper towels, cleaner, fabric softener, two bottles of bleach, heavy plastic sheeting, 55-gallon heavy-duty garbage bags, and duct tape – as well as an Almond Joy bar and a magazine.
Prosecutors contend that the cleaning supplies were for cleaning at the murder scene, the Local No. 9 Smokehouse and Substation in Johnstown, which Kakavelos owned and where the 22-year-old Lamont worked.
Thursday was the fifth day of testimony in the trial, being held at the County Courthouse in Ballston Spa. The trial is expected to last three or four more weeks, with County Court Judge James A. Murphy III presiding.
Kakavelos, 52, of Milton, and shop manager James A. Duffy were both arrested and indicted in connection with the slaying. Duffy, 35, of Johntown, last month pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against Kakavelos. He is expected to be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. Kakavelos could receive life without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.
Kakavelos’ defense attorney Kevin O’Brien contends that Duffy was the sole killer, and Duffy threatened Kakavelos’ family to get Kakavelos to help with the subsequent coverup.
Lamont, of Gloversville, was killed with blows to the head from a bat and a hammer on Oct. 28, 2019, shortly after the business closed for the day, police say. Her body was found three days later buried in a shallow grave in a swampy area off the southbound entrance ramp to Northway Exit 13 in Malta.
During his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Alan Poremba said fertilizer was dumped on Lamont’s body in an apparent effort to speed decomposition.
The jury also heard from a state police investigator who helped unearth Lamont’s body on the rainy evening of Oct. 31. Wearing a protective Tyvek suit, Inv. Dennis Rounds he and others removed sticks and branches piled on the grave, and then dug with small shovels and by hand until encountering concrete pavers. Once the pavers were removed, Rounds testified that he could see human skin.
“She was laying on her right side with her knees, hands, like in the fetal position on her right side,” Rounds testified. “They could see three rose tattoos down the middle of her back.”
He said the tattoos helped identify the body as Lamont’s. “She had no clothing on,” he testified. “She appeared to have multiple injuries to her face and head area … There was still mud, but it was obvious there were head and face injuries.”
Also testifying was Trooper Patrick Darling, a canine handler who was assigned with his Belgian Malinois, Jocko, to the Exit 13 ramp on Oct. 31. Jocko, a trained cadaver dog, scented on an area of recently disturbed soil about 30 to 40 yards off the entrance ramp. Darling notified investigators and then left without disturbing the scene. Another trooper who was with him found a 2 1/2-pound sledge hammer in the path, he testified. It was collected as evidence.
There was also testimony that five garbage bags were found near a blocked lane off Rowland Street, near its intersection with state Route 29. Security camera footage from the nearby Pompa Brothers stone quarry showed a vehicle stopping there about 1:46 a.m. on Oct. 29, and what appeared to be the same vehicle returning two hours later.
The case is being tried in Saratoga County because that’s where the body was found after Duffy led state police to the location, and it’s also where crime evidence was hidden. The trial will resume at 9:15 a.m. Friday, with Rounds still on the witness stand.