PITTSBURGH PA July 13 2012 AP - Prosecutors announced today that they will not pursue the death penalty against a former armored car guard who allegedly stole $2.3 million from the vehicle after killing his fellow guard.
The jailed guard, Kenneth Konias Jr., 22, is charged with murdering the other guard, 31-year-old Michael Haines, before stealing the money from the Garda Cash Logistics vehicle on Feb. 28.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. had previously said he might not seek the death penalty in order to deprive Konias of the notoriety that sometimes attaches to death penalty defendants, especially since Konias will spend life in prison if he’s convicted of first- or second-degree murder.
It could take 18 months for a death penalty case to go to trial, compared with six months if the death penalty was not a factor.
“If we’re successful in our case, this guy’s never leaving the joint,” Zappala said.
Authorities believe Konias was driving the armored car when he opened a door behind the driver’s seat and fatally shot Haines, who was in the middle of the truck’s three compartments. Zappala has also said the physical evidence doesn’t support what Zappala considers Konias’ self-serving claim that he only shot Haines after Haines aimed a gun at him during some kind of argument.
Haines was shot in the back of the head and there was no evidence in the truck or in the way Haines clothes appeared that day to suggest the men struggled before Haines was shot, Zappala said.
Zappala spokesman Mike Manko said Tuesday the prosecutor met with Haines’ family a couple of weeks ago seeking input on whether to pursue the death penalty, but he otherwise didn’t comment on the decision.
Haines’ family released a statement Tuesday saying they told Zappala they hoped to avoid the prolonged death penalty process.
“Our desires were voiced in favor of avoiding the extensive trial period involved in such a pursuit, and diminishing the degree of prolonged stress on our family,” the statement said.
The family added that “Michael loved super heroes and had faith that right triumphs over wrong” and said a swifter trial “will help to expedite such triumph in Michael’s honor.”
The FBI and Pittsburgh homicide detectives have gone to Florida and otherwise spent the weeks since the robbery trying to trace Konias’ movements before his arrest and trace the stolen money.
Konias reportedly confided in a prostitute in Florida who then told a male acquaintance about Konias’ role in the robbery, and that man contacted Pittsburgh police the night before Konias was arrested.
At least $1.1 million has been recovered in Florida along with nearly $300,000 in Pennsylvania. The FBI has been trying to determine if more money is stashed somewhere or whether Konias spent it all, though Konias may have given a large sum to a cab driver who investigators said may have been trying to help Konias escape to an island in the Caribbean.
PITTSBURGH PA April 24 2012 (AP) — An armored car guard accused of killing his partner in Pittsburgh and making off with more than $2 million was arrested in Florida on Tuesday after nearly two months on the run when someone called Pittsburgh police to report his whereabouts, authorities said.
Investigators recovered more $1 million from a storage locker and the home where Kenneth Konias Jr. was arrested early Tuesday in Pompano Beach, Fla., law enforcement officials said. Konias was arrested without incident at a home where he had been staying, the FBI said.
Special Agent Michael Rodriguez, head of the Pittsburgh FBI office, said Konias was cooperating with agents.
“He admitted his identity and he was cooperative when he was arrested,” Rodriguez said at a news conference announcing the arrest.
Konias had two weapons with him, both handguns, one of which was his company-supplied weapon, which Rodriguez said Konias “indicated that was the weapon he used in the incident.”
Rodriguez estimated investigators recovered between $1.3 and $1.5 million of the missing money — much of it at a nearby storage locker Konias led them to — but as much as a half-million dollars remains unaccounted for.
Konias’ parents, Kenneth Sr. and Renee, were briefed about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday by local law enforcement officials that their son was now in FBI custody in Florida, Konias’ attorney, Charles LoPresti, said.
“I can tell you that the parents are both relieved that he’s now in custody, that the search is over for him, and they want the wheels of justice to turn fairly,” he said.
“They’re very relieved that nobody, including their own son, is in danger now that the search is done,” LoPresti said.
Rodriguez didn’t have details about the tip that led to Konias’ arrest, but said Konias had “confided in several individuals” after arriving in Florida.
“I think he may have made the admission that he was remorseful about his activity, some of his activities, in Pittsburgh,” Rodriguez said.
Konias appeared briefly in federal court in Fort Lauderdale a few hours after his arrest and waived his right to a removal hearing, allowing U.S. Marshals to transport him back to Pennsylvania.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton said he’ll confer with Allegheny County prosecutors and Pittsburgh police to determine whether Konias will be prosecuted in Common Pleas court or federally.
Konias is charged by Pittsburgh police with criminal homicide, theft and robbery and by federal authorities with committing a Hobbs Act robbery and discharging a firearm in a crime of violence.
Although federal authorities do not have a specific homicide statute, Konias could be charged in Haines’ death under a different section of the firearms charge he already faces and that would carry either life in prison or the death penalty if he were convicted.
Konias allegedly shot fellow Garda Cash Logistics guard Michael Haines before fleeing with money from the truck they were guarding on Feb. 28 in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh auto squad detectives were conducting another investigation when they drove past the Garda armored car, which had been left idling under a bridge, and saw supervisors from that company at the scene about 3:45 p.m. that day.
Inside, a Garda official found Haines shot in the back of the head, and his duty pistol missing — along with Konias and what authorities would later determine was about $2.3 million.
Video surveillance of Garda headquarters showed Konias jumping into his SUV and speeding out of the parking lot just before 1:30 p.m. that day, or more than two hours before the abandoned armored car was found.
When police went to the home Konias shared with his parents, they found blood on his uniform jacket. His parents said Konias had left shortly after returning from work and a friend of Konias later told police he had called about 1:05 p.m. to say, “I (screwed) up. My life is over.”
When the witness asked Konias if he had a bad day at work or got a girl pregnant, he replied, “Worse than that.”
“What, did you kill someone?” the witness asked. After several seconds of silence, Konias said, “Yes” before asking that person to run away with him and stating “he had enough money to live on for the rest of their lives,” the affidavit said, and asked about extradition laws in Canada and Mexico.
Authorities have previously said they recovered about $275,000, including about $250,000 stashed under a car at the Dravosburg home he shared with his parents and about $24,000 found a day earlier at the grave of a family member.
A Pittsburgh Fugitive Task Force member told the AP on condition of anonymity that the search for Konias was complicated by the fact that the stolen money was untraceable and in smaller denominations, mostly $20 bills and below.
The money was shrink-wrapped and, despite the amount believed stolen, it could likely fit in a container about the size of a foot locker. The source spoke anonymously because those details had not been publicly released by investigators.
Armoured truck security guard on the run after killing partner, stealing $2 million www.privateofficer.com
|WANTED FOR MURDER-ROBBERY|
Pittsburgh PA March 2 2012 An armoured truck security guard is on the run after allegedly shooting his partner in the head and vanishing with more than $2million in cash.
Kenneth Konias Jr, 22, is accused of killing Michael Haines, 31, in the back of the truck after the men, both Garda Cash Logistics guards, had made several stops to collect money.
Haines was discovered dead in the truck when it was found idling under a bridge in Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon.
‘This is a premeditated murder,’ Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala told Wpxi.com.
‘Our belief is that he planned to rob the company and if he had to kill the guard then he planned to do that. He shot the guy from close range in the back of the head to accomplish the robbery. That’s pretty cold.’
The truck had picked up money from the Rivers Casino shortly before 9am that day and was found about 3.40pm, after the guards had made several stops elsewhere, police said.
Pittsburgh police major crimes Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki told The Associated Press that surveillance video from the area shows the truck had been parked under the bridge since shortly before 1.30pm that day.
‘There’s a time lapse from when the truck was parked’ until it was found, Stangrecki said. ‘He must have gone to the company parking lot where his car, his Ford Explorer, was parked, and got there and left the area.’
Homicide detectives went to the address where Konias lived with his parents in Dravosburg and found his bloody uniform jacket in his bedroom.
Stangrecki said Konias’ family is cooperating with the investigation and had not been aware of the robbery.
‘We know that he returned to his family’s home, left the jacket and left the house,’ Stangrecki said. ‘He may have come home normally from work like he always does. And he hasn’t been seen since.’
So far, police don’t believe Konias had any help.
‘At this point, no, it looks like he’s the brains behind this incident,’ Stangrecki said.
The police report shows that Konias called a friend after the alleged shooting, reports Wpxi.com.
He said, ‘I f***ked up. My life is over.’
He allegedly told the friend he had killed someone and that he had enough money to live on for the rest of his life.
The FBI was also investigating, and is still auditing the exact amount of money taken from the truck.
Garda officials have offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and released a statement saying company officials are ‘shocked and deeply saddened at the death of our colleague and extend our condolences to his family.
‘We are continuing to assist law enforcement it its investigation of this incident.’
Stangrecki said investigators notified Pittsburgh International Airport and officials at various transportation agencies as well as U.S. border authorities to be alert for Konias in the nationwide manhunt.
Authorities believe Konias may have two guns – his service pistol and another hand gun, and Zappala told reporters, ‘We are trying to stress how dangerous this individual is.’
‘We want everybody looking for him.’
Police said he is driving a tan Ford Explorer with Pennsylvania license plate number GZW-4572.