Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Witness in Bristol Twp. murder trial charged with perjury
Posted: Monday, December 8, 2014
Kyle Page testified last year that he stood 2 feet away from Kevin Battista when the 30-year-old Bristol Township father of two was shot and killed in December 2006.
The shooter, he testified, was his first cousin, Ckaron Handy, with whom he was selling cocaine that night. He saw the .22 caliber revolver that Handy used on Battista during a drug deal that turned into a botched robbery, he testified at Handy’s preliminary hearing on murder and related charges on Jan. 23, 2013.
Page reportedly told the same story in 2009 when he appeared before a Bucks County grand jury investigating Battista’s murder, which occurred in the Fleetwing section of Bristol Township.
But authorities recently learned that Page, one of their star witnesses, couldn’t have seen the murder. He was in jail at the time, police said.
On Monday — the same day jury selection began in Handy’s murder trial — Page, 29, of Bristol Township, was charged with three felony counts of perjury. He was arraigned before District Judge Joanne Kline — who also had heard his 2013 testimony — and was sent to Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $25,000 bail.
Bristol Township police allege that Page lied three times under oath: twice before a grand jury in 2009 when he testified that he was an eyewitness to the murder and named Handy as the killer, and again during the 2013 preliminary hearing.
Page admitted last month to lying about being a witness to murder, police said, after Bucks County prison officials confirmed that he was in custody at the Doylestown Township jail on the day of the murder.
Page, who has a long criminal history going back to 2004, has since written two letters to Bucks County deputy district attorney Chris Rees, who is prosecuting Handy, apologizing for lying and attempting “to explain why he has lied in the investigation into Kevin Battista’s murder,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Bucks County Prosecutor Christopher Rees declined to comment Monday on how the perjury charge might effect the trial or what Page told him in the letters.
Bristol Township police allege that Handy, now 26, of Philadelphia, shot Battista, described as a recreational cocaine user, when he tried to buy $60 worth of the drug while looking for his longtime girlfriend.
The case has taken eight years to get to trial.
Ckaron Handy (L) and Kevin Battista
Bristol Township police said that while Handy, a convicted drug dealer, was an early suspect in Battista’s murder, they didn’t have enough evidence — or witnesses — to connect him to the crime. Witnesses had refused to come forward, police said.
The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office then took the case before a grand jury in 2009, and three years later Handy was charged with murder and related charges.
Handy is already serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison for a 2012 conviction of a federal firearms charge for possessing a semi-automatic handgun in 2011 in Bristol Township. At the time, Handy was a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Handy also was arrested on a drug charge less than a year after Battista’s death and served time in state prison until his 2011 release.