The attorney for a Port Jefferson Station man charged with stabbing a Medford woman to death conceded that his client mutilated her and set her body on fire, but told jurors Tuesday there's no proof he killed her.
Defense lawyer William Keahon said the actions of his client, Evans Ganthier, 33, after the death on Dec. 4, 2009, of Rebecca Koster, 24, were "despicable," "abhorrent" and "shameful."
"There is no question that Evans Ganthier removed parts of Becky's body," Keahon said in his closing argument, which he had not finished Tuesday after three hours of talking. "There is no question that he set her body on fire ... But there is no credible proof that he stabbed her in the abdomen."
Keahon will finish Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Riverhead, and Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson will make her case before the jury begins deliberating.
Ganthier is charged with second-degree murder in Koster's death. Prosecutors say he stabbed her hours after meeting her in a Holbrook bar and dumped her body in Connecticut. Keahon said she drunkenly fell in Ganthier's garage and the impact tore her liver and killed her.
Keahon said prosecutors were counting on what Ganthier did after Koster died to make up for a lack of evidence that his client killed her.
"I know it's extremely difficult for you not to convict him right now because of what he did to her body," he said. "Probably eight of you want to do so right now."
Keahon focused on the Koster autopsy report and the testimony of Connecticut's retired chief medical examiner, Dr. Harold Wayne Carver. Keahon said both were deficient.
Although witnesses said Koster smoked marijuana before going out and had several drinks, the autopsy found no alcohol or drugs in her bloodstream.
That intoxication -- perhaps augmented by Vicodin use her boyfriend testified about -- could account for how Ganthier described her behavior to police, Keahon said. He said she was gagging on the way to his house and unsteady on her feet before she hit the floor, Keahon said.
But even worse, Keahon said, was the cause of death Carver found. Carver testified she was stabbed in the liver, but Keahon said the external wound was six to eight inches below the liver, and nothing in between that wound and the liver was cut.
"It's impossible," he said. "It's incredible."
Carver also testified an X-ray showed an air bubble in Koster's heart, a sign that she was stabbed in the neck while alive. Keahon noted the autopsy said the neck wounds caused no bleeding or serious damage.
"It's hocus-pocus," Keahon said of Carver's theory.