Friday, December 14, 2007

Woman says defendant planned to rob victim

Analyst testifies that none of Williams' DNA was found


OCALA - Kevin Rommel Williams, his ex-girlfriend and the girlfriend's former housemate talked about robbing David Kalmanson a week or two before Kalmanson was killed, the former housemate testified Wednesday.

The woman, Venise Brewer, was the first witness in Williams' murder trial to link Williams to the slaying. Kalmanson, 76, was stabbed to death in his home at 2323 N.E. Jacksonville Road on the night of Nov. 16, 2000.

Williams, 41, is charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Brewer - who lived in the house next door to Kalmanson's with Williams' former girlfriend Laurie George - testified she, George and Williams had talked about robbing Kalmanson a week or two before the murder.

George was in the process of moving out of the house at the time Kalmanson was killed, Brewer said. On the night of the murder, Brewer and George went to Kalmanson's house to get a log for the fireplace. Kalmanson was fine at the time, Brewer testified.

Williams came by and stayed at the rental house about 20 minutes before Brewer left. When she returned a half hour later, Williams and George were both gone, she said.

One of Williams' lawyers, Michael Johnson, attacked Brewer's credibility. On cross-examination, Brewer admitted she and George would steal items from Kalmanson's house. One woman would distract him while the other would take things, she said.

She told jurors she once stole a weed trimmer from Kalmanson's house and took it to Lowe's for a refund "and got our money back."

George and Brewer had contact with Kalmanson, who owned the house they lived in, on a daily basis, Brewer said. She described the retired stockbroker and wholesaler as "very odd, strange."

Brewer admitted she had six felony convictions, including retail petty theft. She also acknowledged that she was using drugs and alcohol heavily when she moved into the house at 2320 N.E. Jacksonville Road.

George was facing charges of stealing more than $34,000 from Kalmanson by forging his signature on checks when she reportedly told police Williams had killed Kalmanson while robbing him. She is expected to testify against Williams.

Earlier in the day, jurors saw a picture of Kalmanson's heart, including the stab wounds that likely killed him.

Dr. Steven Cogswell, former 5th District Medical Examiner, showed jurors autopsy photos of Kalmanson's stab wounds, including a picture of his heart and aorta removed from his body.

The pictures strongly affected at least one juror, who looked increasingly queasy as Cogswell described the wounds. At the request of Williams' lawyers, Circuit Judge David Eddy granted a recess when Cogswell finished.

Kalmanson was stabbed five times, Cogswell said. One wound in the throat cut his thyroid gland, and could have been fatal on its own without medical treatment, he said.

Kalmanson also was stabbed four times in the chest, including one six-inch deep wound that pierced his breastbone and his heart.

"To get a knife through bone, you've got to use a significant amount of force," Cogswell said.

Kalmanson also suffered stab wounds to both lungs and another to his heart and aorta, Cogswell said. With his aorta cut, Kalmanson bled to death within minutes, Cogswell told jurors.

The wounds were consistent with an approximately 8" long chef's knife police recovered from Kalmanson's kitchen, Cogswell said. But knife wounds can't be precisely tracked to a specific knife the way bullets can be tracked to a gun, he added.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab analyst Jason Hitt testified the chef's knife, and five others taken from the kitchen, tested negative for both blood and DNA. Other items from the house contained Kalmanson's DNA, but none contained Williams', he added.

"Mr. Williams was excluded as to all of the samples that got DNA results," Hitt said.

Rick Cundiff may be reached at or 352-867-4130.

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