Co-defendant confronts car dealer murder suspect during trial

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CLEVELAND – The man on trial for robbing and murdering a couple inside their Collinwood car dealership questioned a co-defendant in the case Friday.

Joseph McAlpin, 31, is accused of shooting and killing Michael Kuznik and Trina Tomola-Kuznik inside Mr. Cars on East 185th St. in April 2017. McAlpin is representing himself in his own trial and faces the death penalty, if convicted.

Co-defendant Andrew Keener, 25, testified that he was friends with McAlpin’s brother, co-defendant Jerome Diggs, and agreed to help the men steal cars in exchange for cash to feed Keener’s drug addiction.

Keener said did not know anyone was killed until several days after the crime.

“If you was man enough to go in there and rob and kill that family, why [are] you not man enough to tell everybody in this courtroom what you did?” Keener asked McAlpin from the stand.

Prosecutors said McAlpin shot and killed the victims and their dog inside the dealership, and Keener and Diggs waited down the street before helping to steal two vehicles from the lot.

McAlpin questioned Keener about lies he told investigators during an initial interview after his arrest. Keener admitted he lied at that time because he feared for his and his family’s lives.

“I didn’t lie about implicating nobody. I didn’t just pick you off the side of the earth and put you in this,” Keener said.

He maintained that he was telling the truth during his testimony. “You’re supposed to believe a liar?” McAlpin asked.

“I don’t see how people believe in you,” Keener responded.

Keener agreed to testify against McAlpin as part of a plea deal with prosecutors in which his aggravated murder and robbery charges were reduced to involuntary manslaughter and grand theft charges.

He said he’s been labeled a “snitch” for testifying against McAlpin, and it has put his life in danger.

“If an innocent person didn’t do nothing, then why are they going around saying I snitched on you? And not saying I’m lying on you?” Keener told McAlpin. “You [are] trying to flip my words around. You still can’t stop the truth.”

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