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January 11, 2014

Trial set in Moxham hammer slaying

EBENSBURG — The Moxham man charged with killing his father by using a hammer and knife is set to go on trial in early May.

In court Friday for a pretrial hearing, Jonathan Kuzma was told by Cambria County Judge Timothy Creany that jury selection in the homicide trial will begin May 5 and the trial will start as soon as a panel is chosen.

Kuzma, 31, is charged with homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, theft and receiving stolen property in the Aug. 2 attack on his father, John Kuzma, 52 of Bond Street.

Police allege that Johnathan Kuzma, described as a heroin addict, fought with his father, who refused to allow his son use of the car to drive to a methadone clinic in Altoona.

Police said that while the elder Kuzma was asleep in a chair, the defendant hit him twice in the head with a carpenter’s hammer. Police said he believed his father to be still alive, so he stabbed him seven times in the neck and eight times in the chest.

Kuzma dragged his father’s body to the basement. He also took jewelry, money, prescription drugs, a Sheetz card and a .22-caliber handgun that he later exchanged for heroin, police said.

He was arrested early the next morning, and after being interviewed by city police was taken to the Cambria County Prison without bail.

Defense attorney Michael Filia is attempting to have  statements Kuzma made following the murder to police and others suppressed.

Following the attack, Kuzma reportedly went to the Ferndale Avenue home of his brother, Nathan Kuzma, and confessed to the killing.

Filia is also asking Creany to bring in a jury from out of the county because of the extensive media coverage of the murder.

Creany said he will rule on the request at the time of jury selection. In addition, Filia is to give to Creany a list of experts he wants to examine Kuzma and other unspecified elements of the case.

Creany gave Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Persio until Jan. 21 to make a copy of the video interview by police available to Filia.

Kuzma showed no emotion and had nothing to say in the courtroom outside of politely letting the judge know he understood and agreed with the flow of the case.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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