|The following is a summary of the Kevin Foley murder trial, which began Monday, March 9 in Indiana. Foley is charged with killing Blairsville dentist John Yelenic in a violent struggle at Yelenic’s home in April 2006. Renda Broadcasting reporter Ashley Pribicko reports from the Indiana County Court House.
By Ashley Pribicko - June 1, 2009
Kevin Foley was sentenced today for life in prison without parole for the 2006 murder of Blairsville dentist John Yelenic.
After six hours of deliberations in March, a jury convicted Foley of first degree murder. The 43-year-old ex-state trooper has testified in his own behalf, denying any role in the brutal slaying of Yelenic. Foley was living with Yelenic’s estranged wife, Michele, at the time of the murder, and the Yelenics’ divorce arrangement has been agreed upon, but not finalized. The blood-stained divorce papers were found on a coffee table in John Yelenic’s living room after the murder.
Judge William Martin told Foley that he has not showed remorse for his crime, and that while it is not clear when Foley formed his intent to murder Yelenic, he had plenty of time to decide the murder was the wrong thing to do while driving to Yelenic’s Blairsville home. Martin said are Foley initially attacking Yelenic, he never stopped and that he never did intended to stop.
Foley did not speak during the trial. His lawyers spoke on his behalf.
Martin said “it would be reprehensible for any human being to commit this crime, but the fact you are a Pennsylvania state policeman is incomprehensible."
A host of people affected by the murder spoke this morning in court, all they all say their trust in the state police has been betrayed. Yelenic’s friend, Maria Tacelosky, challenged Governor Rendell to launch an investigation. She said Foley made threats towards Yelenic at the State Police Barracks in Indiana, but she says those threats were not immediately reported.
Bruce Edwards, the president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association said he understands the public is concerned about their safety after a former state trooper is convicted of first degree murder. He said despite public belief, troopers are fully investigated for stepping out of line for non-work related incidents.
Foley’s Greensburg-based defense team, Richard Galloway and Jeffrey Monzo say Foley is maintaining his innocence and that they are looking forward to post trail proceedings to vindicate him. Galloway said he believes Foley was not given a fair trial because the jury pool was tainted by the sensational case presented by the media.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony Krastek says he understands that Galloway believes the case should be tried again in another county, but he says the most incriminating evidence is the Foley’s DNA that was found under Yelenic’s fingernails.
The prosecution announced before the trial that it would not seek the death penalty.
Foley Trial: Day 9 - FOLEY FOUND GUILTY OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER
March 19, 2009
Kevin Foley has been found guilty of first degree murder in the death of Blairsville dentist John Yelenic. A yell rang out in the audience of the courtroom when the verdict was read, and Foley immediately hung his head.
The jury of seven men and five women took more than six hours to reach its decision, which was announced just after ten o’clock last night. A yell rang out in the audience of the courtroom when the guilty verdict was read, and Foley immediately hung his head when he learned his has been charged with murder in the first degree.
The murder occurred in April of 2006, and the investigation went slowly. It was not until September of 2007 that the 43-year-old Foley was arrested. He was immediately suspended as a state trooper and has been in the Indiana County Jail since.
Yelenic’s cousin, Mary Ann Clark, said she is relieved justice has been served.
Foley took the stand in his own defense yesterday morning, repeatedly denying that he killed Yelenic. Under cross examination from Prosecutor Anthony Krastek, he testified that when he asked another state trooper for help in killing Yelenic, he never intended to carry it out. One of his attorneys, Jeffery Monzo, said they still believe Foley is an innocent man.
The conviction carries with it a mandatory life sentence with no chance at parole. Foley will be sentenced at 8:30 AM on June 1st.
Foley Trial: Day 8 Summary
March 18, 2009
It was quite a day in the Indiana County common pleas court as Kevin Foley testified in his own defense, and then closing arguments were presented. The suspended state trooper is accused killing John Yelenic in April of 2006.
Foley took the stand shortly after 8:30 this morning in the courtroom of Judge William Martin, and told the jury about his childhood and his respectable career as a state trooper at the Indiana Barracks. Foley also told the jury about the five times he met Yelenic, and admitted he disliked the Blairsville dentist. When Foley was asked by his attorney, Richard Galloway, if he had anything to do with Yelenic’s death Foley looked at the jury and said, “I did not.”
In cross examination, Foley detailed his relationship with Yelenic’s estranged wife, Michele, who Foley was living with at the time of the murder. Deputy Assistant District Attorney Anthony Krastek asked Foley if he told his colleagues and family that he wished and prayed Yelenic would die violently on several occasions. Foley said he couldn’t remember ever saying that, even though he did admit to asking a fellow state trooper to help him kill Yelenic –But Foley said he was just joking with his buddy.
After a brief recess for lunch, Foley’s other attorney, Jeffery Monzo, presented closing arguments for the defense telling the jury the Commonwealth jumped to the conclusions and made that Foley killed Yelenic, and said that no evidence could link Foley to the murder.
But in the prosecutions closing arguments, Krastek said that Foley had a motive to kill Yelenic –He even told people he wanted to kill his girlfriend ex-husband– but if the jury couldn’t convict Foley on that fact alone, they should remember that Foley’s DNA was found under Yelenic’s finger nails, and asked the jury to convict Foley of first degree murder.
Judge Martin was presenting his course to the jury, and there is a possibility the jury could begin deliberations immediately after.
Foley Trial: Day 7 Summary
March 17, 2009
It’s week two –Day 7, in the Kevin Foley Murder trial and the defense continued to call witness to the stand. Foley is charged with killing Blairsville Dentist John Yelenic in 2006. Foley was dating Yelenic’s estranged wife, Michele, at the time of the murder.
DNA expert Dr. Lawrence Mueller testified first today. He told the Jury that according to his calculations the DNA under Yelenic’s finger nails is not that of Kevin Foley. Instead, Mueller suggested there are similarities between the DNA on Yelenic’s fingernails and Foley, but says that it is possible for the DNA to look similar to Foleys, but not actually be Foley’s.
Upon cross examination, Krastek asked if Mueller could totally rule out Foley’s DNA. Mueller said he could not.
Mueller also told the jury in cross examination that he has testified 100’s of times and has only testified once for a prosecution. He also said he is paid for his work, which included testifying, at a rate of $200 an hour.
Other witnesses called by the defense were character witnesses which included Troopers Timothy Lipniskis and Christopher Adams, and also testifying on Foley’s character was Standford Webb, minister of the Faith Temple of Christ in Indiana. Foley was not part of Webb’s congregation – Webb only fixed Foley’s lawn mowers.
Foley Trial: Day 6 Summary
March 16, 2009
The Commonwealth rested its case this morning, against 43-year-old suspended state trooper Kevin Foley who is charged with murdering a Blairsville dentist in April of 2006.
Pittsburgh-based divorce attorney Effie Alexander, who represented John Yelenic, took the stand this morning and told the Indiana County jury about a “down-right-nasty” divorce between her client and his estranged wife Michele.
When questioned by Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony Krastek, Alexander said Michele was named as the beneficiary on a $1 million life insurance policy, and that Yelenic had planned to remove Michele’s name from that policy after the divorce was final, but Yelenic was murdered before he could sign the final divorce papers. The divorce was to be settled the same week that Yelenic was slashed to death.
Then in an emotional testimony, Alexander said Michele would lose $2,500 a month in spousal support when the marriage settlement was finalized, and that Michele made every effort to sabotage any type of settlement. But Judge William Martin told the jury to disregard the sabotage comment after one of Foley’s attorney’s, Jeffery Monzo, objected to the comment.
Alexander also admitted to Monzo that Michele has never cashed in the $1 million insurance policy, but Alexander said she believes the money has gone to Yelenic’s estate, which eventually will be paid to his son, J.J., who is in Michele’s custody.
Foley Trial: Day 5 Summary
March 13, 2009
It’s day five in the Kevin Foley murder trial and discussion this morning was about the bloody shoe prints found at the crime scene of the 2006 murder of Blairsville dentist John Yelenic.
Investigators say that someone wearing ASICS gel creed or ASICS gel creed plus tennis shoes tracked bloody footprints throughout the Yelenic home. FBI forensic examiner Michael Smith took the stand this morning and explained to the jury how he determined the partial shoe prints left behind at the crime scene match the shoeprint of the ASICS gel creed and gel creed plus models. He said he paired the geometric shapes from the crime scene shoe print to a filed ASICS shoe print in the FBI computer system.
Terry Shalow of the ASICS shoe company testified today. He was shown pictures of Foley wearing running shoes in different pictures, and Shalow said that Foley was indeed wearing a gel creed or a gel creed plus model of ASIC tennis shoe in the pictures. The pictures of Foley were taken from his residence in July of 2005 by state police while serving a search warrant.
Shalow also reviewed order forms presented by Deputy District Attorney Anthony Krastek that shows Foley ordered both models of the running shoes. In cross examination, Shalow said that 25,000 pairs of shoes were sold that were identical to the ones Foley had purchased. And –Shalow said that without the ASICS logo being part of the bloody shoe prints - he could not say for sure if the shoe prints were from ASICS shoes because other countries produce knock-offs of the ASICS brand.
Foley Trial: Day 4 Summary
March 12, 2009
It’s day four in the murder trial of Kevin Foley –and the testimony today was about DNA.
Foley is charged with the murder of Dr. John Yelenic, a Blairsville Dentist who was gruesomely attacked in his home on April 13 of 2006. Foley was living with Yelenics estranged wife, Michelle, at the time of the murder.
FBI special agent Jerrilyn Conway – who is a forensic DNA examiner, told the jury the DNA taken from the finger nail clippings of Yelenic’s right hand matches the DNA of Foley. In fact, her findings state there is only a 1 in 13,000 chance that the DNA on those nails is NOT Foleys.
But two other independent DNA experts testified, too, giving the Commonwealth even stronger evidence against Foley. One expert says, based on her calculations, there is a one in 23 million chance that the DNA is not Foley’s. Both independent experts use a more specific method of DNA testing that allows her to get more detailed numbers. Another independent DNA expert testified he found there is as much as a one in 89 Billion chance that the DNA found on Yelenic’s finger nails is not Foley’s.
The defense had sought to bar the testimony because it covers the data gathered from DNA by an outside source, not the expert’s analysis of the DNA itself, but last week Judge William Martin ruled it would be permitted. Foley’s Greensburg based attorneys Richard Galloway and Jeffrey Monzo tried to discredit the experts’ testimony.
Foley Trial: Day 3 Summary
March 11, 2009
It is day three of the Kevin Foley murder Trial at the Indiana Courthouse and four out of four state troopers - who were asked – said they saw a scratch on Foley’s face the day after the murder of Blairsville dentist Dr. John Yelenic.
Criminal Investigator, Deana Kirkland was the first trooper to take the stand. She said Foley told her on two separate occasions that he wished Yelenic would die. Once Foley said he prayed Yelenic would die and another time he said he wished Yelenic would die in a car crash. She also said she was aware of an argument Foley and Yelenic had in the driveway of Foley’s home. And trooper Martin Knezovich said Foley often referred to Yelenic using expletives.
Each trooper testified the approximate 1-inch scratch was red, freshly marked, and looked like it was caused by a fingernail. The defense argued the scratch was small enough to be caused by a child and that Foley did tell each trooper he got the scratch when removing his hockey stick from his SUV the morning after Yelenic’s murder.
Also testifying this morning was Sergeant John Dell of the Pennsylvania State Police in Greensburg –he served the body warrant and took hair and blood samples from Foley.
And Corporal Randall Gardner –also of the Greensburg Barracks – took the stand this morning. He was assigned the investigation in July of 2006 and is the supervisor. He detailed items his unit collected in the search warrant at Foley’s home he shared with Yelenic’s estranged wife, Michelle. Troopers found 3 shoe boxes in the search – all of the ASICS brand and all between size 10 and 11 – which investigators say match the size of the bloody shoe prints found at the murder scene.
Foley Trial: Day 2 Summary
March 10, 2009
The murder trial of Kevin Foley resumed this morning in the Indiana County Court House at 8:30, and the first witness called to the stand was famed forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht.
Wecht has conducted many high-profile autopsies including the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the murder case of JonBenet Ramsey and even the autopsy of starlet Anna Nicole Smith.
But this morning, Wecht sat on the stand for three hours detailing the autopsy of Blairsville Dentist John Yelenic who was brutally murdered in home in April of 2006. Suspended 43-year-old state trooper Kevin Foley has been charged with Yelenic’s murder, and this morning Foley eyed over the revealing autopsy photos of the cuts on Yelenic’s body.
Wecht says Yelenic had multiple smooth edged, slash-style wounds all over his body that- in his opinion - were inflicted by a right handed person with a knife. The largest of those was a cut to his neck that was a foot long and six-inches wide. Wecht says this was a combination style cut, with smooth and jagged edges, that ultimately took Yelenic’s life.
Wecht believes Yelenics neck was cut twice – once by a knife and again when pushed through the window pane next to his front door on that fateful night.
Greensburg based defense Attorney Richard Galloway showed the jury the assailant did not have to be right handed, and Galloway also contended that Wecht was incorrect in explaining how the knife was held by the attacker.
Foley Trial Opens with Photo Evidence
March 10, 2009
Jurors at the Kevin Foley murder trial were shown photographs of the bloody crime scene yesterday. Foley is charged with killing Blairsville dentist John Yelenic in April of 2006.
Among the witnesses called to testify on the first day of the trial was state police Corporal Charles Gonglik, who described the gruesome pictures and told the jury that the blood was so thick it actually seeped through the living room floor into the basement below.
Also testifying was 17-year-old Craig Uss, Yelenic’s neighbor, who discovered the body after his younger brother had alerted him that something was wrong at the dentist’s home. The brother had gone there to return a video game he had borrowed.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Jeffrey Monzo told the jury bluntly that “Kevin Foley is innocent.” He said the prosecution failed to investigate three other people who had a motive for killing Yelenic, and that “this case is about the prosecution leaping – jumping - to the conclusion that Kevin Foley killed Doctor Yelenic.”
Monzo told the jury that the murderer could have been Thomas Uss, Craig Uss’s father, who owed Yelenic money; or it could have been Tracey Jacobs, who also owed the dentist money; or it could have been Brian Ray, whom he said admitted taking part in the killing while in custody in Westmoreland County after Yelenic’s death.
The trial resumes this morning at 8:30.
Foley Trial Starts Today
March 9, 2009
The Kevin Foley murder trial began today in the courtroom of Indiana County president Judge William Martin. Foley is charged with killing Blairsville dentist John Yelenic in a violent struggle at Yelenic’s home in April 2006. After months of investigation with very little progress, former District Attorney Bob Bell called upon the resources of the state attorney general’s office, leading to Foley’s arrest in September 2007.
Foley has been in the Indiana County Jail since then. He is on suspension from his job as a state trooper. He had been living with Yelenic’s estranged wife, Michelle, at the time of the murder.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Tony Krastek is leading the prosecution. Much of his case is based on DNA evidence gathered at the crime scene. he is also going to introduce crime scene photos of the case in an attempt to place Foley there, based on a shoieprint from a sneaker that matches the kind Foley often wore. Krastek will also call on Foley's state trooper colleagues, who will testify that he often played with a knife and said on several occasions that he wished Yelenic were dead.
Foley is represented by Greensburg attorneys Richard Galloway and Jeffrey Monzo and Indiana attorney Thomas Johnson, who told the jury they will show the DNA evidence is not reliable, and that the rest of the evidence is purely circumstantial, leaving significant doubt that Foley could be the murderer.
The trial is expected to last as long as three weeks.
Jury Seated, Foley Trial Will Start Monday
March 6, 2009
Jury selection was completed yesterday and the murder trial of Kevin Foley will begin on Monday. A jury of six men and six women will hear the case. Six alternate jurors were also chosen.
Foley is accused of the murder of John Yelenic, a Blairsville dentist, in April of 2006. Foley was suspended from his job as a state trooper upon his arrest in September of 2007. He had been living with Yelenic’s estranged wife, Michelle, at the time of the murder.
Judge William Martin has ruled that the jury may see photographs of the crime scene, including bloody sneaker shoeprints that purportedly match the size and style Foley wore. The prosecution will call an executive of the ASICS shoe company to testify. The judge also ruled that two prosecution DNA experts may testify. The defense had attempted to bar their testimony because it will be based on their analysis of FBI data on the DNA found under Yelenic’s fingernails, not on their own analysis of the DNA itself.
The trial starts at 8:30 Monday morning and is expected to last as long as three weeks.