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Gruesome details released in hammer assault, stabbing death

By Maria Miller
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A Johnstown man accused of hitting his father in the head with a hammer and stabbing him several times faced a judge for the first time on Monday as investigators pieced together what they believe happened at his home earlier this month. 

Police say Jonathan Kuzma Jr. violently killed his father and then dragged his body through the house before throwing it down the basement stairs. Police said they arrested him just hours later after he told his brother what he did. 

Charges against Kuzma Jr. were bound over for trial on Monday, but not before investigators and the coroner's office released gruesome new details about the alleged crime. As 6 News has reported before, police say Kuzma Jr. admitted to klling his father when they arrested him. On Monday his defense team didn't have much to say or question. 

Investigators showed pictures of the crime scene and described blood trails on the floors and walls leading from the living room, through the kitchen and down the basement stairs. 

Investigators estimate the crime happened around 10 a.m. They said Kuzma Jr. became upset that his father wouldn't give him the car to drive to a methadone appointment in Altoona. 

Police said Kuzma Jr. waited until his father fell asleep in the living room recliner before killing him. 

Cambria County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeff Lees testified that an autopsy showed Kuzma Sr. had two hammer blows to the head and 15 stab wounds -- eight in the chest and another seven in the neck. 

After the alleged homicide, police said, Kuzma Jr. opened his father's safe and stole cash, jewelry, a handgun and 30 prescription pills. Police said he also stole his father's car and drove around to several locations to purchase heroin --about 14 stamp bags they said he took in addition to the pills. 

Investigators said Kuzma Jr. was arrested later that evening after visiting his brother, who called 911. 

"There was a lot of details about the process of how the murder happened through the defendant's own admission, coupled with the coroner's report and the autopsy that confirmed exactly what happened," said Gary Jubas, who along with Kevin Persio is prosecuting the case for the Cambria County District Attorney's Office. 

"There's some medical tests that were conducted and the results have not been received yet," said attorney Michael Filia, who is defending Kuzma Jr. with attorney Rick Massina. "I think once they're received, I think that will go a long way in deciding how they case will be resolved."

Filia and Massina said it's still too early to comment on how they're building their case, but said they expect Kuzma Jr.'s trial to start in about a year.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times