FULTON & SARATOGA COUNTIES – Georgios Kakavelos on Tuesday denied any role in the 2019 death of Allyzibeth Lamont at his Johnstown sub shop, saying he came upon former co-defendant James Duffy as he killed her, and tearfully called Duffy a “monster” and described his fear in those moments and the hours afterward.
Kakavelos, testifying in his own defense as his trial for first-degree murder approaches its close, said under questioning by defense attorney Kevin O’Brien that he had driven another employee home late in the afternoon of Oct. 28, 2019, and sat in his car for a while before going back into his business, the Local No. 9 Smokehouse and Substation.
He testified that he walked in to find a nightmarish scene, with Duffy bloodied and a naked young woman he couldn’t recognize on the floor.
“I lost everything,” Kakavelos said, sobbing for the first time in what was four hours of often-tearful testimony on the witness stand “I dropped on the floor, I called him, I said, ‘You monster, what are you doing?’ He called to me and said, ‘Motherf….r, what are you doing already coming back in?’ I said, ‘What are you doing, who is that girl?’ He said, ‘You motherf….r, you are going to be next.’”
Kakavelos’ version of events is radically different from the version of events the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office has offered over the last four weeks, presenting dozens of witnesses over 15 days of testimony to lay out a case that Kakavelos made a financial arrangement with Duffy to have Lamont murdered because she had talked to the state Department of Labor about the under-the-table pay system at the restaurant.
Both Duffy, 35, of Johnstown, and Kakavelos, 52, were indicted on first-degree murder charges in connection with the brutal killing of the 22-year-old Lamont on Oct. 28, 2019, at the Local No. 9, which Kakavelos owned and where Duffy and Lamont worked.
On April 30, Duffy pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court to one count of second-degree murder, and he is expected to be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison in exchange for his testimony against Kakavelos. Kakavelos, if convicted of first-degree murder, could face life in prison without parole.
In his opening statement on May 13, O’Brien said Kakavelos was threatened by Duffy into helping cover up the murder, which O’Brien said was actually carried out entirely by Duffy. In Kakavelos’ testimony, that’s exactly how events went, with Kakavelos playing a passive role while Duffy carried out and covered up the killing.
In three days of testimony that began last Thursday and concluded on Monday, Duffy testified that Kakavelos wanted Lamont to die because he blamed her for an investigation into his business by the state Department of Labor and because she had organized other employees at the sub shop against him. Duffy, who was manager of the shop, testified that he was paid between $1,100 and $1,300 in cash for carrying out the slaying, then helping Kakavelos cover it up.
On Tuesday, Kakavelos denied he arranged the killing at several points in sworn testimony that began with an account of his immigration from Greece at age 21 and his experiences in the restaurant industry, including a confluence of unrelated events that contributed to business suffering at the Local No. 9 in the fall of 2019. At several points, O’Brien abruptly shifted his line of questioning to Lamont after focusing on other topics.
“Did you ask Mr. Duffy to help you ‘get rid of’ Miss Lamont?” O’Brien asked Kakavelos on one of those occasions.
“Never,” Kakavelos responded.
“Did you work with Mr. Duffy to come up with a plan to murder Allyzibeth Lamont?” O’Brien followed up.
“No,” Kakavelos responded.
Later, O’Brien’s questioning shifted to the night Lamont was killed. Kakavelos said he came upon the scene. He testified that Duffy threatened him with a knife, and implied he had other associates who would be able to harm him and his family if Kakavelos went to police or told anyone about the slaying.
He said he knew that Duffy drank heavily and he had at one point fired Duffy for it, though he later rehired Duffy. But he said there was something different in Duffy’s eyes the night Lamont was murdered.
“I could not recognize this person,” Kakavelos told jurors. “Next I hear a sound and he’s coming toward me, he says ‘You’re going to be the next one. You need to help me or I will kill you.'”
Out of fear, he said he didn’t immediately go to the police when Duffy sent him to the Gloversville Walmart to buy cleaning supplies – a visit caught on surveillance video shown by prosecutors. He said it was Duffy who parked Kakavelos’ car in front of the sub shop and that Duffy alone loaded the body into the car, lifting her “like she was nothing, like she was a deer.”
Kakavelos said Duffy kept the knife with him and directed him where to drive without telling where they were going, and they ended up at the Route 9 entrance to the Northway at Exit 13 in Malta, where he said Duffy alone unloaded the body and bags containing bloody clothes, bloodied rags, and other evidence.
“Why didn’t you drive away?” O’Brien asked his client.
“I didn’t think about it, to tell the truth, I was shaking so badly,” Kakavelos responded.
The defendant said he and Duffy drove back to Johnstown where he waited while Duffy did more cleanup and then got to his home in Milton about 2 a.m., where his wife was angry that he got home so late. He acknowledged that he didn’t tell her what had happened, either that night or the next morning, or call the police.
“’You call the police, I’m going to kill another one. You call the police I will kill your family,’” Kakavelos recounted Duffy allegedly telling him. “I couldn’t do anything. I wasn’t the man I was a few hours before. I had broken.”
Lamont was reported missing to Gloversville police after friends couldn’t locate her on Oct. 29, 2019. Her body was found buried in a shallow grave on Oct. 31, near the southbound entrance ramp to Northway Exit 13. Duffy had led police to the location after several hours of questioning on Oct. 31.
In his testimony, Duffy recounted that he beat Lamont in the back of the head with a baseball bat and later with a small sledgehammer shortly after the business closed on Oct. 28, and that Kakavelos put a plastic bag over her head and choked her. After that, Duffy testified that he and Kakavelos both spent the night of the killing and the next night cleaning up the scene, disposing of the body near Exit 13, and going back to bury it the next night.
They also hid evidence including bags of bloody clothing and bloodied cleaning rags, Duffy said. Those bags and the baseball bat believed to be involved were recovered by police at remote locations in Milton and Galway, and the hammer was found near the burial site in Malta.
The prosecution concluded its case on Tuesday with law enforcement cellphone tracking consultant Cy Ray, who testified about using cellphone tracking data to trace movements by Kakavelos on the day of the attack and immediately afterward. The tracking data, based on how cellphones are tracked by nearby signal towers as they move, confirmed movements that were also seen on surveillance videos from the Gloversville Walmart and various convenience stores and other businesses in the Capital Region.
Ray testified that in October 2019 there were 463 text messages between Duffy and Kakavelos – making Duffy by far the person Kakavelos texted with the most. He said there were seven voice calls between Kakavelos’ phone and Duffy’s on Oct. 29, the day after Lamont was killed – but he said he couldn’t say whether all went through, or some went to voicemail.
The trial is adjourned until 9:15 a.m. Thursday when Kakavelos will continue to give testimony under questioning by O’Brien. He will also be cross-examined by prosecutors. He has yet to be questioned about the night of Oct. 29, when Duffy said they both returned to Malta to bury Lamont’s body.
The case is being tried in Saratoga County Court in Ballston Spa, with Judge James A. Murphy presiding, because Lamont’s body was found in Saratoga County, even though the killing took place in Fulton County.