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Suspect says motivational speaker asked to die

/ Source: The Associated Press

A homeless man ordered held without bail Wednesday in the slaying of a motivational speaker claims the victim asked to be stabbed to death so his family could collect insurance money, authorities said.

Assistant District Attorney Gloria Garcia said at the arraignment of Kenneth Minor that he "strangled as well as stabbed" Jeffrey Locker last week in the victim's station wagon, which was parked near an upper Manhattan housing project.

The Criminal Court complaint that Garcia filed said that Locker, who was from the suburbs and had recent legal and financial troubles, was found July 16 with multiple stab wounds to his chest and ligature marks around his neck.

Garcia said Minor stole Locker's iPhone and is seen on "numerous" videotapes using Locker's ATM card to withdraw cash.

Minor, jailed on charges of murder and possession of stolen property, gave police a statement saying he helped Locker die at his request, Garcia told the court. The complaint she filed says Minor told police Locker offered him money and the ATM card if he would kill him.

Minor said he accepted the offer, the complaint says.

‘Thrust his chest into the knife’
Garcia said Minor claimed Locker, who had a wife and three children, asked to be tied up to give the appearance he had been robbed so Minor tied Locker's hands behind his back before killing him.

The complaint says that in the station wagon, Minor "held a knife while the white male repeatedly thrust his chest into the knife, and that after doing so the white male appeared to die."

Garcia, urging Judge Kevin McGrath to keep Minor in jail without bail, said police found no suicide note or other evidence Locker wanted to die.

A telephone call to Locker's home went unanswered.

Garcia also told the judge Minor had no home and no job. She said the defendant, arrested Tuesday night, previously had committed several felonies, was the subject of three outstanding bench warrants and is on probation.

The judge ordered Minor jailed and scheduled his next court appearance for Monday. No plea was entered by Minor at the arraignment.

Defense lawyer Daniel Gotlin said that, despite Garcia's comments, there is no videotaped or signed statement that implicates his client in Locker's slaying.

But police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Minor gave police a written statement that suggested that Locker wanted to be killed.

"He was looking for someone to help him die to collect insurance money," Kelly said, referring to Minor's statement. "We're still doing a lot of work in this investigation."

Gotlin also denied that his client was incoherent.

"He knows what's going on," the lawyer said. "My client is totally rational. He denies that he intentionally killed anybody and he intends to plead not guilty if he's indicted."

Victim seen buying condoms
Police said Locker, 52, was found hours after he called his wife in North Woodmere, on Long Island, to say he had a flat tire and would be late coming home. The self-proclaimed "business spiritualist" told her he was dropping off two people who helped him change the tire.

Police said it didn't appear the tire had been flat, and witnesses reported Locker had been in the East Harlem neighborhood before. The night he was killed, police said, witnesses reported seeing him buy condoms and bottled water at a deli not far from where he was found dead.

Police still are searching for a man and a woman in the slaying.

Locker was dedicated to "bringing spirituality into the business world," according to his Web site. He offered workshops on dealing with stress, frustration and anxiety in the workplace. Companies around the country hired him to speak, the site says.

History of legal trouble
Locker had a history of legal trouble. A federal bankruptcy court trustee in Florida sued Locker in April as one of the investors who profited from a giant Ponzi scheme run by Louis Pearlman, the impresario who created boy bands 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.

The trustee demanded that Locker give back at least $121,200 of about $373,000 in bogus profits.

Locker said in a response filed in May that he categorically denied "all aspects" of the suit and had no way of repaying the money.

Pearlman is serving a 25-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to running a $300 million investment scam.

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