Prosecution preparing to call final witnesses in Massena murder case
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
CANTON -- The prosecution is getting ready to call their final witnesses in the Christopher Hebert murder trial.
Hebert, 47, is being tried in St. Lawrence County Court for second-degree murder for allegedly killing Yekel, who died at age 25 around June 7, 2014. Prosecutors say Hebert severely beat her and then choked her. Yekel's skeletal remains were recovered in woods near the Massena Industrial Park on Aug. 29, 2014.“We have witnesses left. I’m not going to go into detail,” District Attorney Gary Pasqua said.
Although the prosecutor declined to say who the witnesses are, he said in his March 14 opening statement that the jury would hear a recording of Hebert confessing to the murder in 2017. Brandy Bressard, Hebert’s ex-girlfriend, was one of the people he allegedly told about the murder. She later agreed to work with New York State Police and got the defendant on tape describing the killing, the DA said in his opening statement.
On Monday afternoon, three witnesses talked about how Yekel’s remains were identified, explained phone records obtained by police and discussed seeing Yekel with Hebert days before her death.
Urfan Mukhtar, supervisor of forensic services in the state police DNA analysis section in Albany, said he compared DNA taken from Yekel’s femur bone with a swab given by Yekel’s mother, Bonnie Lamay.
He said they were able to use that to determine the bones, which came to the state police crime lab as Jane Doe, belonged to Yekel.
Next up on the stand was Scott Johnson, who works for Verizon Wireless as a custodian of records in civil and criminal cases.
Johnson explained various sets of records from numbers belonging to Hebert and Yekel.
He said Yekel’s phone shows activity after June 7, the day she is believed to have died, but they were incoming calls that were not answered and sent to voicemail.
The final witness of the day was Chantelle LaPrade. In June 2014, she lived next to On A Roll Deli in Massena, where Yekel was employed.
"I remember seeing Lacey outside ... she was going in and out repeatedly from the store … She was going right into the side entrance and then come back out and speak to someone in a black pickup truck,” LaPrade said, later identifying the person in the truck as Hebert.
The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. today in St. Lawrence County Court.