BELVIDERE, N.J. - The son of a woman who was killed seven years ago when thieves took his safe from her home testified Monday morning at the retrial of one of the convicted murderers.
Sean Counterman of Mount Bethel, Northampton Co., identified the safe he installed in the Phillipsburg home of his mother, Mary Bostian, as well as some of its contents, and demonstrated to the jury that he knew the combination during his 40 minutes on the stand.
Counterman said he and his mother were the only people who knew exactly where the safe was located in her home on Thomas Street, and that only he knew the combination.
Counterman was one of five witnesses the prosecution called Monday against Thor Frey, who was convicted in 2009 of murdering Bostian on Aug. 18, 2006.
Speaking rapidly in clipped sentences and a low voice, Counterman said he built a wooden frame in one of the second-floor closets in his mother's home to disguise the safe, and that a long leather coat and a gown owned by his sister was also used to helped conceal the safe.
He said that when the safe was stolen, it contained $25,000 in cash and coins, as well as a pistol, and receipts from his construction business.
Counterman said $4,500 in cash and between $800 to $1,000 in coins had been returned to him.
Counterman also described how he was called to his mother's home from a construction job in Lower Nazareth Township, Northampton Co., hours after she was murdered.
He also testified that he recognized a cross and another piece of jewelry shown to him by police at the scene as similar to ones that that were hanging from the visor of his car, and that the jewelry was purchased by Frey's now ex-wife, Naomi Frey.
Counterman said he and Naomi Frey had been living together for two years when his mother was murdered.
Under cross examination, Counterman admitted four other people may have known of the existence of the safe, but he maintained that they either did not know where the safe was or where his mother lived.
Before Counterman's testimony, Judge Ann R. Barrett ruled on a bizarre argument that brought testimony to a sudden end last Friday.
She said Palmer Twp., Northampton Co., K-9 officer Glenn Sipel would only have to repeat the command "bite" he gave to his partner Kahn in Czechoslovakian when they captured Frey in a thicket behind the Travel Inn Hotel in Plainfield Twp., Northampton Co., six days after Bostian's murder.
Defense lawyer Michael Priarone wanted Sipel to repeat all three commands he gave his Hungarian-born, Czech Republic-trained German Shepherd, because he said it would show Frey's state of mind at he time he was bitten on the leg and pulled from the thicket by Kahn.
Prosecutor Kelly Shelton objected, saying having the words repeated in open court might jeopardize the officer at a later date.
After the judge's ruling, Priarone questioned Sipel for several minutes, but he never asked him to say anything in Czechoslovakian.