NEW YORK – A teenager accused of fatally stabbing a radio newsman he met through Craigslist was lured to the man's apartment for illegal sex, his lawyer said Monday at the start of the boy's trial on a charge of second-degree murder.
John Katehis went to George Weber's Brooklyn apartment in March 2009 believing he was going to earn $60 to help move boxes, defense lawyer Jeffrey Schwartz said in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
Instead, Weber gave Katehis, then 16, alcohol and what the teen believed was cocaine and offered him the money in exchange for smothering and binding him for sexual gratification, Schwartz told jurors.
"George Weber was a 47-year-old drunk predator of an underage boy by the name of John Katehis," Schwartz said. "He lured this 16-year-old boy to his lair."
Katehis wasn't legally old enough to consent to sex with an adult. The age of consent in New York is 17.
Weber, 47, pulled out a knife during the encounter and Katehis, "feeling jumpy, nervous and paranoid," defended himself, Schwartz said. Weber was stabbed more than 50 times, prosecutors said.
Weber had been working as a freelancer for ABC News Radio. He also had worked at WABC in New York, and at stations in California, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Investigators found no cocaine in Weber's apartment and toxicology tests done when Katehis went to the emergency room for cuts on his right hand found no traces of the drug in his system, the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors portray Katehis as a willing participant who placed a Craigslist advertisement offering sex for money. Weber, who had a sexual fetish for being smothered "to the point of where he was close to passing out," responded to the ad, said prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi.
The two exchanged e-mails and pictures before agreeing to meet at Weber's apartment, the prosecutor told the jury.
"This was a vicious, brutal, intentional attack," the prosecutor told the jury, adding that the motive may "never be quite clear."
"He wasn't warding off any attack. He wasn't high or drunk," she said.
Police officers discovered Weber's body on his bedroom floor covered by a blanket with his pants and underwear at his ankles, which were bound with duct tape, an officer testified. The officers had gone to his apartment after Weber's employer called police and said he hadn't been to work in two days.
In Weber's blood-splattered apartment, investigators found a vodka bottle, a bottle of whiskey, duct tape, scissors, lubrication and an empty cardboard box for a camera, detective Thomas O'Brien testified Monday.
Katehis is being held without bail. If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.