A Port Jefferson Station man said he panicked one night after a woman he had just met tripped on 50-pound dumbbells in his garage, hit her head and died, and that's why he mutilated her and took her body on the ferry to Connecticut, where he set it on fire, a detective testified Thursday.
However, Evans Ganthier denied stabbing Rebecca Koster the night of Dec. 13, 2009, Det. Philip Frendo testified at a pretrial hearing in state Supreme Court before Justice Richard Ambro to determine the admissibility at trial of statements Ganthier made.
Ganthier, 33, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Koster, of Copiague.
During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson, Frendo said Ganthier initially couldn't recall the last time he'd been at Butcher Boys Bar & Grill in Holbrook. But when Frendo said he told Ganthier they had video of him there that night, he acknowledged meeting Koster there, but resisted saying what happened later.
"If I told you what happened, you wouldn't believe me," Ganthier said, according to Frendo.
Frendo told him to go ahead, and Ganthier said he drove Koster to his home in his mother's Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle. She started to gag on the way there, so he brought her in to get her water, he said, according to Frendo.
After she tripped on the dumbbells, Ganthier put her back in the truck to take her to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, but she died before they got there, Frendo said Ganthier told him.
That's when he said he panicked. He said he cut off her hair, fingertips, toes, nose and two tattoos so she wouldn't be identified, wrapped her in plastic and a photo backdrop, took her on the ferry from Port Jefferson and found a motel just off Interstate 95, Frendo said.
Frendo said Ganthier first told him the mutilation took place in his garage, but later said he did it in Connecticut. He said he scattered the body parts he cut off across southern Connecticut.
He rested until dark and found a spot in North Stonington where he dumped the body and poured gasoline on it, he said, according to Frendo. "Then he lit Rebecca on fire and drove away," Frendo said. When her phone got text messages from her family, he posed as her and said she was being held captive by her boyfriend, Frendo said.
"He said he knows that it looks bad," Frendo said. "He stated that his girl-chasing days finally caught up with him."
But Frendo said he denied stabbing her, saying he had no reason to do it.