By Ryan Thompson
JAY STREET — The murder retrial of a teenager who once described himself as an anarchist with a penchant for “extreme violence” is concluding in Kings County Supreme Court, with summations being held Monday. The young John Katehis is continuing to claim that he killed a Carroll Gardens radio host in self-defense during an S&M sex act.
Katehis, who once wore “Prince of Darkness” scrawled on the sides of his shoes when he appeared in court before Justice Neil Jon Firetog, said George Weber, of 561 Henry St., was a sex predator and a drunk.
The so-called satanic teenager, then 16, was arrested in March 2009 for allegedly stabbing 47-year-old Weber, who worked for WABC and met Katehis through sex ads on Craigslist. Weber was stabbed 50 times, but Katehis said he only remembers stabbing Weber once in the throat, after Weber, who was bound at the ankles with duct tape and had his pants and underwear below his knees, pulled out a knife during a smothering act.
Katehis, of East Elmhurst, Queens, has pled not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and weapons possession. He was tried last fall, but jurors deadlocked after a two-week trial.
Jurors in the first trial reportedly were voting 11 to 1 for a conviction on murder, the sole charge Katehis faced. They reported the hold-out juror did not believe Katehis intended to kill anyone. A unanimous jury verdict is required for a conviction.
The jurors had previously sent Justice Firetog notes requesting to see crime-scene photos of Weber’s apartment, the transcript of testimony from one of the officers who found Weber’s body, and explanations of second-degree murder and reasonable doubt.
After several days of deliberations, jurors told Justice Firetog that they were hopelessly deadlocked. Katehis has remained remanded in prison for the last year awaiting his retrial, which began on Nov. 2, also before Justice Firetog.
Reports suggest that Weber may have paid Katehis to beat him and smother him during sadomasochistic sex, and things got out of hand. Katehis claimed he blacked out during the stabbing, and that Weber gave him several lines of cocaine, as well as alcohol.
“I don’t see why a 47-year-old man such as George Weber would lure my son, who was only 16 at the time, into his home and give him liquor and drugs,” Beth Katehis said outside the courthouse after a pretrial appearance prior to the first trial. “He defended himself against George Weber. He said [Weber] introduced the knife. I believe him.”
In a videotaped statement, Katehis said he told Weber he was a 16-year-old white male from Queens. After exchanging emails and photos, they arranged to meet, Katehis said, and after arriving at Weber’s apartment from school, Katehis said in the video, he finished the root beer he’d brought with him and then accepted Weber’s offer of a Bud Light and cocaine.
Weber demonstrated for Katehis how he wanted the teen to place a cloth sprayed with “poppers” — nitrites inhaled to enhance sexual pleasure — to his face, Katehis said. Weber took Katehis to a bedroom and told the teen to bind his ankles with duct tape. As Weber lay on the bed on his stomach, he pulled a small knife from his right pocket, Katehis said.
“The moment I saw the knife — I guess because of the coke — I got super paranoid,” Katehis says in the tape. “I grabbed for the knife. We were both struggling over the knife … I freaked and I grabbed for the knife. He tried to yank back. It jabs him in the neck.
“He gags and he’s, like, cursing,” Katehis goes on in the video. “I just started to freak.”
Katehis said a cut to his right index finger required stitches. Katehis said he took $60 from Weber’s pockets. As he left, closing the apartment door, Katehis remembered hearing Weber. “He was mumbling,” Katehis said.
Katehis posted various photos of himself with his knife collection on MySpace. In one photo, he is holding a miniature sword. In other photos, he is seen showing off his upper-arm tattoo of a pentagram accompanied by the numbers “666” and “Diablo,” which means “devil” in Spanish. In the photos, Katehis is often wearing t-shirts featuring metal bands Cannibal Corpse and The Black Dahlia Murder, and seen posing in front of a Mötley Crüe wall decoration.
By combing through Weber’s cell phone records and emails, police were able to track down Katehis several days after the murder. Katehis, who was reportedly spotted by witnesses on a northbound G-train bleeding profusely, was found wearing Weber’s clothes. Katehis’ father helped police arrest Katehis days after the killing by calling his son in Middletown, N.Y., where he was hiding out with friends.
In the police video made after he was arrested, Katehis is seen leaning back in a chair, eating a doughnut, and joking with the prosecutor asking him questions. In court before his first trial, Katehis laughed when watching himself laughing on the tape.
Prosecutors had contended Katehis was a cold-blooded killer who intended to kill Weber, although they didn’t give a motive. They had also claimed that Katehis was the one who placed the Craigslist ad offering sex for money. Katehis wasn’t legally old enough to consent to sex with an adult at the time. The age of consent in New York is 17. “George Weber was a 47-year-old drunk predator of an underage boy by the name of John Katehis,” defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz told the jury during the first trial. “He lured this 16-year-old boy to his lair.”
Weber’s apparent desire for rough gay sex, and the possibility that he may have repeatedly sought it with youths, comes as a startling contrast to the mournful outpouring of praise and admiration that his death evoked.
Several nights after his murder, friends placed candles on the steps of Weber’s brownstone home on Henry Street between President and Carroll streets. A bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon and a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola were also left on his doorstep. An employee at Angry Wade’s, a Smith Street bar that Weber used to frequent, said that Weber was an “incredible person.”
In Weber’s blood-splattered apartment, investigators found a vodka bottle, a bottle of whiskey, duct tape, scissors, gay pornographic images, lubrication and an empty cardboard box for a camera, detective Thomas O’Brien testified in the first trial.
Investigators found no cocaine in Weber’s apartment, and toxicology tests done when Katehis went to the emergency room for cuts on his right hand found no traces of the drug in his system, the prosecutor said. If convicted, Katehis faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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