A man accused of helping his friend cover up the stabbing of a pregnant Coal Center woman last month recorded a brief cellphone video of her as she lay bleeding while they coerced her into lying about the assault, according to testimony at his preliminary hearing Thursday.
In the video, Cassie King was covered in her own blood and could barely speak as she was told by Dylan Justin Lesnik, who allegedly slashed her ear and neck with a knife, and Troy Matthew Chiera to accuse another man of the assault inside her apartment Dec. 14.
State police interviewed Chiera several days after the stabbing and he allegedly showed investigators cellphone video of the aftermath as he told them Lesnik confessed to slashing King. But investigators accused Chiera of conspiring in the attempted homicide, helping to cover up the assault, hiding evidence and intimidating the victim.
After playing the video in court and hearing testimony from King and a state police investigator, District Judge Joshua Kanalis ordered Chiera, 34, of Centerville, to stand trial on all charges.
“It was horrific,” Washington County First Assistant District Attorney Jason Walsh said of the video. “She’s laying there covered in blood and can barely speak. It looks like she was bleeding to death. It’s horrific.”
King testified that she was asleep in her apartment at 135 Spring St. about 3 p.m. Dec. 14 when Lesnik, her boyfriend at the time, came in and began arguing with her. He cut her ear and neck and punched her, injuring her spine, she testified. She begged Lesnik to call for an ambulance, and he made a phone call to someone before Chiera appeared and pretended to be a medic, King testified. Chiera looked at her wounds and sat with her for a few minutes before leaving the room to speak privately with Lesnik.
They returned and began recording King and questioned her as they insisted another man assaulted her, she testified.
“They were recording me on a phone and trying to get me to say who it was (who assaulted her),” King said.
King suspected they made the recording “in case I died” so they would have evidence claiming it was someone else. King needed a blood transfusion while being treated in an ambulance before being flown by medical helicopter to an area hospital where surgeons had to reattach part of her ear and put her in a neck brace for her injured spine, she said.
Chiera and Lesnik left before authorities arrived, according to testimony. Lesnick ditched the knife behind the house, investigators said, while both of them sold Lesnick’s vehicle to a local used car dealer.
State police Trooper Terrance Crowley, who interviewed Chiera a few days later, testified that Chiera said he made a cellphone recording of the aftermath and offered to testify against Lesnick.
“He told me he recorded the incident so he would have it on record,” Crowley said.
Chiera’s defense attorney, Kimberly Furmanek, noted that her client did not assault King and he sat with her and attempted to render aid. But Walsh said he was an accessory to the crime, left King without calling authorities and helped Lesnick dispose of evidence.
Kanalis agreed and held Chiera on all charges, including criminal conspiracy to attempt homicide, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, conspiracy to intimidate a victim, conspiracy to flight to avoid apprehension, conspiracy to terroristic threats, tampering with evidence and obstruction of law administration, along with new charges of aggravated assault, flight to avoid apprehension, terroristic threats and witness intimidation.
Chiera watched the proceeding, which was held in central court at the Washington County Courthouse, through a teleconference at the Washington County jail, where he is being held without bond.
Lesnik, 28, who faces a string of charges in the stabbing of King, is also accused of stabbing to death his neighbor, Marshall Y. Craig, on Dec. 15 and stealing his bank card to withdraw money from the man’s account. Chiera has not been implicated in that case.