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Victim's mother leaves during graphic testimony

Barbara Ross, left, mother of Rebecca Koster, leaves

Barbara Ross, left, mother of Rebecca Koster, leaves Riverhead courtroom in tears with an unidentified woman after hearing gruesome testimony in the death of her daughter. (Aug. 21, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

For days, the mother of a Medford woman has listened to testimony about how her daughter was killed, dismembered and set on fire where she was dumped in Connecticut.

On Wednesday, she couldn't take it anymore, briefly losing her composure as she fled from a Riverhead courtroom.

Barbara Ross has attended almost all of the trial of Evans Ganthier, 33, of Port Jefferson Station, the man charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 4, 2009, death of her daughter, Rebecca Koster, 24. She has sat with her husband, Larry Ross, and other family members through weeks of often disturbing testimony before State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro.

On Wednesday, Suffolk homicide Det. Phillip Frendo testified that Ganthier told him he never stabbed Koster in the neck. Instead, Ganthier said his knife -- bloody and dull after cutting off Koster's fingers, toes, ears and nose -- slipped while he used it to cut her hair in a Connecticut motel room, Frendo testified.

Frendo said he asked Ganthier what he did with the body parts. As Ross bolted from the courtroom in tears, Frendo said Ganthier told him he threw them out in various places in Connecticut.

Ross later returned to the courtroom.

Prosecutors say Ganthier stabbed Koster in the abdomen and neck early on Dec. 4 after meeting her in a Holbrook bar that night. Frendo testified that Ganthier insisted he didn't kill Koster, but did say he mutilated her and set her on fire to hide her identity after she tripped in his garage, hit her head and died soon afterward.

Toward the end of Frendo's interrogation, he said, Ganthier asked him if he could meet with Koster's parents to tell them how sorry he is.

"I said that's not going to happen," Frendo said, but Det. Susan Nolan told him he could write a note to them, and he did. Jurors saw the two-paragraph note, which was not delivered to the parents.

"I wish after she passed, I had handled the situation the right way," he wrote. "I sorry for what I did. I sorry for the things I did to her body."

After three days of being questioned by Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson, Frendo began getting cross-examined Wednesday by defense attorney William Keahon.

Frendo denied to Keahon that the point of an interrogation was to get a confession.

"No, it's to get them to tell the truth about what happened," Frendo said.

Frendo told Keahon that police are trained to get the best record possible of what defendants say to them, but he didn't record the interview in any way. He said he had never been instructed not to record an interview, but that the department's protocol at the time was not to do so.

Since then, the policy has changed and the Homicide Squad now records all interrogations that take place at police headquarters on video.

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