FULTON & SARATOGA COUNTIES – Homicide victim Allyzibeth Lamont died of “blunt force trauma” consistent with being beaten in the head with a baseball bat and small sledgehammer, as prosecutors allege, a medical examiner testified Tuesday.
The cause of death of the 22-year-old sub shop worker from Gloversville was “severe skull fracture and brain injury due to blunt force trauma,” Dr. Michael Sikirica of Albany Medical Center testified in Saratoga County Court, at the first-degree murder trial of the Johnstown sub shop’s owner, Georgios Kakavelos. “They all appeared to be pre-mortem injuries, occurring around the time of death.”
Sikirica also testified that there were small amounts of cocaine and marijuana residue in Lamont’s system, but not enough to be factors in her death. He said there were no indications of sexual assault on the body.
Kakavelos, 52, of Milton, is on jury trial for first-degree murder in the Oct. 28, 2019, death of Lamont, who was one of his employees at the Local No. 9 Smokehouse and Substation in Johnstown. His co-defendant, James A. Duffy, gave a statement to police investigators on Oct. 31, 2019, and then led them to Lamont’s body and three other pieces of evidence that had been hidden at locations in Saratoga County. Both men were arrested later that night.
The autopsy was done on Nov. 1, 2019. “There was obvious trauma to the head,” Sikirica said. “There were fractures to her skull.”
The trial was in its 10th day. It is being held at the Saratoga County Courthouse in Ballston Spa because Lamont’s body was recovered in Saratoga County, in a shallow grave off the Northway Exit 13 southbound entrance ramp in Malta. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Gazette is observing the trial through a video connection.
Duffy, 35, of Johnstown, who also worked at Kakavelos’ sub shop, was also initially charged with first-degree murder, but in April pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He is expected to be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison in exchange for his testimony against Kakavelos, who could get life without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. Duffy is expected to testify when the trial resumes on Thursday.
The motive is said to be Lamont having talked to or threatened to talk to the state Department of Labor about the business, where employees were paid in cash, “under the table.”
Kakavelos’ defense contends that Duffy was the sole killer and Kakavelos only cooperated with efforts to hide evidence afterward out of fear that Duffy would harm his family, which includes three small children.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Kevin O’Brien, Sikirica said he couldn’t determine how many people caused Lamont’s fatal injuries, or pinpoint an exact time of death.
Former employee Samantha Rodriquez also testified Tuesday, saying she worked at Local No. 9 from July to September 2019, and while the women who worked there got along, she saw what initially appeared to be a good relationship between Lamont and Duffy deteriorate into loud arguments.
“It was very personal, like it was family,” Rodriquez said. “There was no professionalism behind it.”
She said the quit the job in September rather than work a 10-hour shift alone with Duffy, whom she said often drank and “rubbed against her,” behavior she interpreted as sexual harassment. There was a confrontation when she told Duffy to stop, she testified.
Also Tuesday, a state Department of Labor auditor testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Alan Poremba that she met with Lamont and another employee on Sept. 10, 2019, after the department received an anonymous complaint about Local No. 9 paying off-the-books wages, and the business never responded to two follow up letters seeking a meeting with the owners and copies of wage records.
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court attorney testified that in a bankruptcy filing in 2019, Kakavelos reported owing tens of thousands in unpaid state taxes, including to the state Department of Labor — debts that cannot generally be reduced through the bankruptcy process.
Trial before County Court Judge James A. Murphy III will resume at 9:15 a.m. Thursday.