Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Main Line Murders

Splintered Trial

Raymond Martray (AP/Wide World)
Raymond Martray
(AP/Wide World)

Nearly two years would pass before the man suspected of being Susan Reinert's actual executioner would be charged with the crime. During that time, jailhouse informants would agree to testify as to what Smith had allegedly told them about the murders and one, Raymond Martray, a former police officer serving time for burglary and perjury, would agree to wear a wire to pick up incriminating statements made by the suspect.

Martray could not legally testify as long as his perjury conviction stood because it made him an "incompetent witness." However, it was overturned on appeal — partly through the assistance of Jay Smith.

Smith was in his prison cell when officers appeared to charge him with the murders of Susan, Karen and Michael Reinert. It was June 25, 1985, six years to the day after Susan's naked and battered body was found in the Host Inn parking lot.

The prosecutor was again Rick Guida. The judge was 70-year-old William Lipsitt who wore his hair slicked down and dyed a shoe polish black. Since Smith could not afford an attorney, Lipsitt asked William Costopoulos to be his lawyer.

Costopoulos was a huskily built man who wore his dark hair swept off his forehead and a dark goatee streaked with white. He prepared cases well and brought a dramatic manner to the courtroom. In his opening statement, Costopoulos went over Smith's accomplishments as a colonel in the Army and a school principal. Then he got to his 1978 "fall" with his arrest for two robberies, an event that "cost him his life's work, stripped him of his dignity, and made him an object of ridicule and scorn."

Even worse, it made him vulnerable to "being targeted by a man who was very, very good at deception . . . none other than William Bradfield." Costopoulos skillfully set the stage for his defense that Bradfield framed Smith. The latter saw an opportunity to deflect suspicion onto the disgraced former principal and seized it.

In Costopoulos' book on the case, {Principal Suspect}, he tells of whispering to his client after the opening, "How did I do, Doc?"

Smith replied, "C+."

"Damn, you're a tough grader," the attorney quietly told his former schoolteacher client.

Ironically, both Guida and Costopoulos had an interest in letting the jury know about the guilt of Bradfield with the former believing it would help convict Smith and the latter holding that Bradfield's deeds exonerated him.

"What we will be doing in this case," Guida explained, "Although there is only one defendant present, is trying two. We will be presenting evidence concerning Mr. Bradfield's involvement, his connection with Mr. Smith . . . the first two, maybe three weeks of the case you will barely hear Mr. Smith's name mentioned. You are going to be looking at me saying, 'What are we doing here?' But it is necessary that I show you the first half before I show you the second. These things are intricately linked together and without showing you the connection, I can't show you the case."

A quiet bombshell exploded early in the testimony. The prosecution called to the stand a state trooper named John Balshy. He told about being at Reinert's autopsy and lifting fingerprints from her body.

Costopoulos' manner was matter of fact when he asked, "By the way, did you look between her toes?"

"Yes," Balshy replied.

"And did you find anything?"

Guida immediately objected and was overruled.

"Did you lift some foreign matter between the toes of Susan Reinert or didn't you, Mr. Balshy?" Costopoulos probed.

"Yes, sir, I did."

"Did it look like sand?" the attorney followed up.

"It could have been."

"Beach sand?"

"Yes, beach sand."

Guida went into a frenzy of re-cross-examination in which he tried to discredit Balshy. He also summoned other troopers to the witness stand to say that no "lifters" had been submitted by Balshy in connection with Reinert. As Balshy would explain in a later proceeding, lifters "look like sticky tire patches" and are used to "gather debris." Holtz took the stand to say that the bottoms of Reinert's feet had been "extremely clean." The prosecution appeared to be calling its own witness, trooper Balshy, a liar.

What exactly was it that the defense was attempting to argue? Was Costopoulos saying that Bradfield, Pappas, Myers and Valaitis were all in a conspiracy to murder Reinert and her two children? That was not a very tenable position. As Wambaugh noted, Valaitis in particular was a poor candidate for a triple-slayer. Indeed, Costopoulos has said of the three known to be with Bradfield at Cape May on that weekend, "They didn't look evil enough." He added that, "I believe it's very possible she was at Cape May because of the sand. I don't know who it was [that conspired with Bradfield] to kill."

Vince Valaitis has suggested that the sand on Reinert's feet could have come from picking her son, who had been playing baseball, up at a sandlot.

Much of the testimony was a rerun of earlier trials, both that of Bradfield for murder and that of Smith for theft by deception. Costopoulos has said, "I believe Smith was guilty of the Brink's theft by deception crimes. I never addressed them with him. I got involved in the case well after those crimes had been tried."

Costopoulos was outraged at what he thought was inadmissible hearsay and prejudicial when witnesses testified to the things Bradfield told them about Smith. The bizarre aspect of this testimony is that Guida readily conceded that it was primarily fantasy made up by Bradfield but, in the defense's opinion, the sheer repetition of horrors ascribed to the defendant, had to have a prejudicial effect.

Costopoulos tried to make it seem that these witnesses could not be trusted. Questioning Chris Pappas, the lawyer asked, "What instrumentalities of crime did you turn over to the authorities?"

"I believe I turned over some ski masks," Pappas replied, "some chains and locks that went with them and a bugging devise that worked on an FM frequency. Also, I turned over a .357 magnum. Those are the items I immediately recall."

"You testified on direct that you removed the serial numbers from a .30-caliber with acid. Is that correct?"

"Actually, I took the numbers off by grinding them on a grinding wheel," Pappas corrected. "I attempted to grind all the way through to the other side hoping that it might cause the gun to malfunction."

"You did all this to protect Susan Reinert from Dr. Smith?" Costopoulos asked with incredulity.

"Yes, sir."

"Did you have a silencer in your possession after the murder of Susan Reinert that you asked Wendy Zeigler to destroy?"

"Yes, I had a silencer in my home on the weekend of the twenty-second through the twenty-fifth and then when I went to New Mexico I asked Wendy Zeigler to destroy it."

The defense attorney's next question was rhetorical. "Did you tell her that so you could protect Reinert from Mr. Smith?"

"No," Pappas replied.

"You ordered the destruction of that silencer to protect yourself, didn't you? And everything you've testified to in this courtroom about Jay C. Smith came from William Bradfield, didn't it?"

"Yes," the witness conceded.

 

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