Detective testifies in Ganthier murder trial
Written statements police took from the man charged with killing a Medford woman don't include everything he said -- particularly his insistence that he didn't stab her, a homicide detective acknowledged during two days of cross-examination that ended Friday.
Evans Ganthier, 33, of Port Jefferson Station, is on trial before State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro, charged with second-degree murder in the death of Rebecca Koster, 24.
Defense attorney William Keahon spent much of the past two days focusing on how Det. Phillip Frendo interrogated his client and crafted two written statements that acknowledge Ganthier dumped Koster's body in Connecticut.
In the end, Frendo said Ganthier told him he cut off Koster's fingers, toes, ears, nose and tattoos and set her body on fire, but insisted he didn't kill her early on Dec. 4, 2009, not long after meeting her in a Holbrook bar.
Instead, Ganthier said Koster had been gagging in his car on his way to his house, and then tripped over some dumbbells in his garage and hit her head, Frendo testified. She died in his car on the way to the hospital and then Ganthier said he panicked, according to Frendo.
At all stages of police interviews on Dec. 14, 2009, and Feb. 8, 2010, Frendo said Ganthier did what detectives asked. He never put limits on what he'd discuss or put a stop to the interrogation, Frendo said.
"He didn't ask to leave, did he?" Keahon said. "He didn't say, 'I'm a little tired, I've been with you guys for nine hours.' "
Frendo agreed, but he balked at Keahon's suggestion that Ganthier was "cooperative."
"Not in the sense that he was telling the truth," Frendo said.
"So you're the person who decided what the truth was," Keahon said.
"I knew what the truth was, based on the evidence," the detective replied.
An autopsy indicated Koster died from being stabbed in the abdomen, cutting her liver. Ganthier insisted repeatedly he didn't stab her.
Frendo acknowledged he controlled what went in Ganthier's statements. He wrote them before Ganthier had a chance to make changes or additions.
Frendo told Keahon he didn't include Ganthier's denials that he stabbed Koster. "I also didn't put in that he did stab her," Frendo said.
Despite Ganthier's claims that Koster bled all over his garage floor and that his clothes were covered in blood, Frendo said forensic scientists could find no evidence of Koster's presence at his home.
Ganthier said he scrubbed and painted the garage floor after he returned from Connecticut, according to Frendo.
Keahon wondered why, if his client was so agreeable, Frendo didn't push for more detail from Ganthier and document it in further statements.
"You could have asked him for four more written statements, couldn't you?" Keahon asked.
"I don't know," Frendo said. "I didn't."