Kathryn A. Shoemaker

Kurtis Conto said Friday that Kathryn Shoemaker planned Ravin Miller's murder and later confessed.

"She said she needed to get rid of him (and) that he was going too far with the checks," Conto testified Friday afternoon before prosecutors rested their murder case against the 34-year-old mother.

It was on Aug. 18, 2009, Conto said, that Shoemaker supposedly uttered the fateful words after Miller reportedly confronted her about his overdrawn account and the alleged checks she stole, totaling more than $35,000.

Though Miller wasn't informed of the exact details of his account problems until the following day, previous testimony revealed, Miller initially learned about the checks on Aug. 18.

That evening, Conto said, Miller called Shoemaker and "told her if she didn't come over he was going to the police (about the checks)."

Conto, who used to date the daughter of Shoemaker's longtime live-in boyfriend, was living at Shoemaker's Route 52 home when Miller reportedly confronted her by phone.

According to Conto, Shoemaker then ended the call with Miller, which was reportedly on speaker phone, and later asked Conto if he would help dispose of Miller's body in a well on her property if she killed him.

The following day, Conto and his former girlfriend, Courtney Chartier, ran errands in Malone and returned home in the afternoon where, they both testified Friday, they saw Shoemaker and Miller unloading his camper from her truck.

"It was just like any normal day," Chartier tearfully recalled from the stand Friday morning.

She said that, after a few minutes, Shoemaker left to bring Miller home and soon returned.

But, Chartier emotionally recalled, Shoemaker left again a few hours later, saying she was going to Miller's home.

"She said that he was depressed and that he was talking about suicide."

Around 11:30 p.m., Chartier and Conto testified, Shoemaker returned to her Chateaugay home as the young couple relaxed upstairs.

Conto said he was upstairs sleeping when Shoemaker woke him to burn several bags of debris.

As he tossed the garbage into a pit outside, Conto said, one tore open, revealing a brown nylon rope.

"She told me that she did it. She said she strangled Ravin," Conto testified as the final prosecution witness.

"She said she cut his wrist to make it look like a suicide."

According to Conto, Shoemaker said she used gloves and a counter for leverage when she strangled the 51-year-old local contractor.

Prosecutors have alleged that Shoemaker killed Miller and cut his wrist to look like a suicide after he confronted her about the money she supposedly stole while he was helping her financially in setting up a trucking business.

Members of Miller's family, who lined the back of courtroom, cried when Conto described Shoemaker's alleged confession.

While recalling that night, Conto said Shoemaker also asked him to dispose of a stolen handgun that was in her car.

Conto said he hid the gun and later threw it, along with ammunition and a marijuana bong, over a nearby bridge, where it was discovered a few days later and turned over to police.

He said he moved out of Shoemaker's home a few days later, "scared of what Katie was capable of."

He then worked with State Police in making recorded calls to Shoemaker to aid the investigation into Miller's death.

Shoemaker was arrested in late October 2009 when Miller's autopsy was finalized and the death was ruled a homicide.

Shortly after Miller's body was discovered in his Route 11 home Aug. 20, Chartier said, Shoemaker received a call informing her of the death.

"She said Ravin had committed suicide by slitting his wrist...she seemed a little upset but she didn't cry," Chartier said firmly after regaining her compose from earlier testimony.

But, according to previous testimony, police never revealed that day how Miller died or how his body appeared.

After the call, Chartier testified that Shoemaker said "If you talk to police don't tell them I went over to Ravin's last night because if they know I was the last person with him (I'll) be in a lot of trouble."

Before the younger Chartier took the stand, a federal inmate serving time for wire fraud and identity theft described her interactions with Miller and Shoemaker a few years earlier.

Timi Anderson, who is also serving time for grand larceny and scheme-to-defraud charges in New York, said she met the pair at a local bar in 2006, when she moved to Malone with her husband and children as she tried "to outrun the feds," she told District Attorney Andrew Wylie.

Anderson said she befriended Shoemaker and frequently hung out with her, as their daughters also became friends.

After her arrest in 2007, Anderson said, she lost contact with Shoemaker "until 2009."

That's when, she said, Shoemaker found her in prison and began writing and calling as she moved among facilities on the various charges.

In those letters and conversations, Anderson said Shoemaker complained about Miller, saying he was "harassing her" and wanting to repossess a truck and karaoke equipment he gave her.

"She was pretty upset about it," Anderson said.

Shoemaker, she added, also mentioned wanting to move out of the area to escape the supposed drama.

"She was just sick of everything ... and tired of him for harassing her for whatever she owed him."

Anderson said Shoemaker never detailed exactly what the financial situation was.

"She just said she still owed him for stuff," Anderson said from the stand.

During cross-examination, Shoemaker's attorney, Greg LaDuke, tried to discredit the witness, pointing out her criminal history and seemingly sordid life.

But despite the heated questioning, Anderson remained consistent about her testimony and was open about her background, even correcting him on inaccuracies.

She also said she wasn't getting any benefits from any law-enforcement or government agency to testify.

"I didn't even know I was coming here (until this week)," she said.

LaDuke barely questioned Conto and Chartier.

Before Anderson took the stand, State Police investigators testified about the late October 2009 search of Shoemaker's home, where they allegedly found several pieces of evidence in debris piles outside the residence.

Shoemaker showed no reaction to the day's testimony.

She has denied the allegations and said Miller died by suicide.

The defense will begin its case Monday morning when the trial resumes.

E-mail Andrea VanValkenburg at: avanvalkenburg@pressrepublican.com

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