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Murder trial begins for 2002 slaying in Allen County

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 7:17 am

The first day of Joseph A. Kast’s five-day murder trial was spent selecting the jury.

By 3:30 p.m. Monday, nine men and three women made up the 12-person jury, with another woman standing by as an alternate.

Kast, 35, a convicted murderer already serving a 55-year prison term for the July 2002 fatal stabbing of a Huntington County building inspector, now faces trial after being charged in the stabbing death of an elderly Fort Wayne man just over a week earlier that same year.

Kast is nine years into his sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City for the murder of 44-year-old Earl Bowman at a construction site in southern Huntington. Kast is on trial this week in Allen County Superior Court, accused of lying in wait and then stabbing 85-year-old Claude Berkshire in the detached garage of Berkshire’s home at 2208 Juliette Ave. nine days earlier, on June 24, 2002.

One of Berkshire’s four daughters discovered her father’s body in the garage.

While Kast was arrested at a Huntington convenience store moments after the Bowman slaying – and was subsequently charged and convicted of the murder – the Berkshire killing had befuddled Fort Wayne Police.

Kast allegedly confessed to the killing to officials at the state prison in May 2009, according to Fort Wayne Police spokeswoman Raquel Foster. During interviews and several times afterward, Kast allegedly admitted to waiting in Berkshire’s garage for hours before ambushing and stabbing the elderly man several times, according to the probable-cause affidavit filed in the case.

The trial is expected to conclude Friday.

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