The low-top sneaker with the air insole looked unremarkable in the black and white photo shown Tuesday in court. It's what can't be seen that led to a rare and risky courtroom appearance by the man accused of murdering an Alburtis woman and her mentally challenged daughter.
Police say the sneaker belonged to Brandin Lee Kasick and the unseen blood on it to Jeannette Walbert, who along with her mother, Althea Walbert, was stabbed to death in early March 2011 at their borough home.
Kasick, 27, testified during a pretrial hearing, trying to get the sneaker tossed from the evidence collected by investigators. Police say Kasick's former girlfriend and mother of his children, Chantiel Schanerberger, handed the sneakers and other items over to them after the killings, believed to be the first homicides in Alburtis.
Kasick's attorney, Paul Levy, argued his client didn't give Schanerberger permission to hand over his items, and that police needed a warrant to collect them.
Lehigh County Chief Deputy District Attorney Christie Bonesch said with that argument, Kasick essentially acknowledged the items were his — something she tried to get him to admit Tuesday.
"These sneakers, were they yours?" Bonesch asked.
Kasick looked at the photo and replied, "They look like the type of sneakers I possibly might buy."
Judge Kelly L. Banach then repeated the question — but louder.
"Are those your sneakers, Mr. Kasick?" she asked.
"They look like the type of sneakers I may purchase at a store," Kasick replied, speaking carefully.
After about three hours of argument, Banach denied Kasick's motion and allowed the sneakers to remain in evidence.
Bonesch zeroed in on the risk of Kasick's argument, telling the judge that Kasick "can't have it both ways." Bonesch said Kasick on Tuesday essentially admitted that they're his sneakers by saying Schanerberger didn't have the right to give them to police, and can't say later at trial they're not his sneakers.
Levy said it's prosecutors who "put it out there that these items belong to Mr. Kasick" and said that's not an admission the sneakers are Kasick's.
Schanerberger handed the sneakers and other items allegedly left by Kasick in her Orefield apartment over to police March 17, 2011. The other items include a T-shirt and jacket.
Authorities say Kasick fled to Florida after the killings and they caught him there six months later. Schanerberger testified Tuesday that she spoke with Kasick while he was in Florida and he told her to get rid of the belongings he left behind in her apartment where he had lived "on and off."
"He left them behind," she said referring to the sneakers, shirt and jacket. "He took everything else and left them behind. He said he no longer needed them and to get rid of them."
Kasick denied saying that to Schanerberger.
"Did you ever tell Chantiel to do anything with your property?" Levy asked.
"No," replied Kasick, causing Schanerberger to storm out of the courtroom, later returning.
Banach said she believes Schanerberger and that Kasick relinquished his ownership of the items, meaning Schanerberger could hand them over to police.
Jeannette Walbert, 59, and Althea Walbert, 82, were found dead around 9 a.m. March 11, 2011, in their home at 122 Cobblestone Court.
Police said they were led to Kasick because he had worked as a carpet cleaner at the Walberts' home. He also spoke about the Walberts and their wealth to many people and discussed how easy it would be to rob them, according to court records.
State police said Kasick killed the Walberts on March 8, 9 or 10 and stole thousands of dollars from them. Althea Walbert was known to carry piles of cash that sometimes spilled from her purse.
She willed her estate, worth $1.64 million, to Longswamp United Church of Christ in Berks County.
Kasick, who had lived in Allentown, Whitehall Township, Orefield and Breinigsville, is scheduled to go on trial in March. He faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.