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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A former armored car guard has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he murdered his partner and took $2.3 million from their vehicle in Pittsburgh in February, though an FBI agent who questioned him after his arrest in Florida two months later testified Friday that the suspect told him he shot the other guard in self-defense.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Tranquilli said after Friday’s preliminary hearing for Kenneth Konias Jr. that evidence inside the Garda Cash Logistics truck doesn’t support Konias’ claim that fellow guard Michael Haines, 31, attacked and fought with Konias before the Feb. 28 shooting, however.
“I think it’s pretty clear from the scene itself what went on here,” Tranquilli said. Prosecutors contend Konias shot the unsuspecting Haines once in the back of the head, before looting the truck — which he left idling under a Pittsburgh bridge — and driving to Florida, where Konias was arrested by FBI agents and others on April 24.
Pittsburgh District Judge Mary Murray ordered Konias to stand trial on charges of criminal homicide, robbery and theft after hearing from two witnesses, FBI Special Agent Gerard Starkey, who interviewed Konias for hours after his arrest in Pompano Beach, Fla., and Pittsburgh homicide Detective James Smith. Konias faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, though prosecutors haven’t decided whether they might also pursue the death penalty.
Konias was arrested in a house rented for him by a man he described to authorities as a “pimp” who also supplied Konias with female prostitutes. Investigators have said someone tipped them off to Konias’ whereabouts.
Starkey said Konias turned over more than $1 million hidden in a storage space a block away and before detailing where some of the other money had been stashed or spent. But Starkey said Konias was evasive about exactly what led to Haines’ shooting except to say “that it was a self-defense issue.”
Instead, Konias carped about the media portraying him as a “killer” — Konias said he followed Internet media accounts on cellphones he bought — and talked about how he was a good employee for Garda.
“He was just trying, in my estimation, to buy time,” Starkey said.
Eventually, Konias acknowledged shooting Haines, but said that happened only after they argued and engaged in a violent struggle during which Haines drew his gun before Konias kicked it out of his hand, Starkey said. Konias said the fight began when Haines threw a hand-held money scanner at the back of his head while he was driving.
Detective Smith testified the money scanner was found still in a holster mounted on one of the armored car’s interior walls, secured further by a rubber band, and that there was no sign of a fight in the vehicle. Haines was also not bruised and, except for his missing 9mm duty pistol — which Konias acknowledged taking and was found in his Florida hideout — his clothes and personal effects were undisturbed.
Instead, Smith said Haines’ body was found facing the back of the truck, in a fetal position behind Konias’ drivers’ compartment.
Starkey said Konias picked up his vehicle at Garda headquarters, then returned to offload money from the truck. After stealing a license plate from a car in a mall parking lot, Konias drove to the home he shared with his parents in Dravosburg to shower and change, then stopped for gas before driving to Florida.
Konias told Starkey he also stopped at his grandmother’s grave, near his home, where he prayed and left $50,000 for his parents to find, along with another $100,000 to $200,000 at their home, plus another $10,000 in some work boots at a friend’s home.
Konias befriended a cab driver in Florida who helped him obtain fake IDs and who Konias believed would help him escape to Haiti after giving that man $700,000 to $800,000. A prostitute also allegedly stole $92,000 from Konias at one point.
Tranquilli said FBI agents in Florida and Pittsburgh are still tracing the money and that all but about $500,000 has been recovered — including all the money Konias left in Pennsylvania. He refused to identify the cab driver or others involved in Konias’ Florida odyssey, or to say whether they may, too, face charges.
FBI officials did not immediately return a call.
Defense attorney Charles LoPresti refused to say if he would argue self-defense at trial.
“I think for the first time we’ve gotten to hear what Mr. Konias told the FBI,” LoPresti said, adding he’s yet to review the investigative reports and other evidence that will be turned over to him in the coming weeks.
Konias didn’t comment during the hearing or as he was led back to the county jail.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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