Three more cops take stand in Hebert trial, testify about calls made from Yekel's phone, ramming incident
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
CANTON -- Three police officers took the witness stand Monday morning in the Christopher Hebert murder trial and testified about an incident where he rammed a police car, and two pieces of evidence connected with the probe of Lacey Yekel's death.
Hebert 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.Mark Englert, a former Massena Police Department sergeant, testified that he tried to stop Hebert on June 12, 2014, days after Yekel's death, and Hebert rammed his patrol car. Englert said he tried to stop Hebert on Sycamore Street and he pulled his patrol car to the left of Hebert's vehicle.
"I felt that he would bail and run from the traffic stop ... he drove his pickup truck into the righthand side of my patrol vehicle," Englert testified, adding that he turned left onto Spruce Street after being hit, and Hebert turned and rammed the patrol car again.
"Mr. Hebert sped off a short distance, fishtailing wildly" and his car broke down on Spruce, Englert testified. He said Hebert ran off on foot and he wasn't able to catch him.
Under cross-examination, Englert testified that he was not part of the investigation of the discovery of Yekel's remains.
After Englert's testimony, Judge Jerome Richards instructed the jury that what they heard from him is not proof that the defendant is guilty, and only "relates to the testimony of other witnesses about the timeline of their testimony of when they dealt with Mr. Hebert."
Two state police senior investigators testified about evidence they helped obtain.
Senior Investigator Peter Kozel said he analyzed Yekel's cell phone, which was found with her skeletal remains on Aug. 29, 2014. Kozel said he examined the phone on Sept. 11, 2014. He said there was a contact labeled "Chris," and the last time it was called was June 6, 2014 at 5:45 p.m. The last call from the phone was made June 6, 2014 at 7:41 p.m. and there were six missed calls the following day starting around 8 a.m., Kozel said.
The prosecution also submitted a report several inches thick on the state police's analysis of the phone. It was admitted into evidence, despite objections from defense attorney Peter Dumas.
"Relevance, in that it hasn't been established to how this is relevant to proving an element of the crime," Dumas said. "What this report shows, what it's expected to show, how the program pulls it out ... we don't have any foundation to what it's going to tell us, essentially."
Senior Investigator Theodore Levison testified that he took a DNA sample from Yekel's mother, Bonnie Lamay, on Sept. 30, 2014. Lamay took the stand on Thursday, March 14 and testified that she gave the sample to investigators.
"You did a number of things with the investigation with this case, yes?" Dumas asked.
"Yes," Levison replied.
"Including interviewing Gerald Dissottle," Dumas asked. District Attorney Gary Pasqua objected to the question, and the judge sustained the objection.
Levison was then dismissed from the stand.
Dissottle testified earlier in the trial as one of the last people to see Yekel alive. He was also arrested for hiding Hebert after he rammed Englert's patrol car.