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Two Largo bar patrons and owner recall '87 slaying

Susan Heyliger made her last sale at 1:59 a.m. on June 7, 1987, at the Country Club Lounge in Largo, the cash register noted.

A $1 schnapps shot.

About 30 minutes later, someone pressed the no-sale key and took $600 from the cash register as the 42-year-old bartender lay in a pool of blood on the floor.

The trial of Jeffrey M. Lobik, the man accused of killing Heyliger, continued Wednesday. Lobik, a 41-year-old construction worker, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Heyliger, who was beaten and choked. Her throat was slit, the wound that finally killed her.

Largo police arrested Lobik 16 years after the murder, they say, when he changed his story.

Dorothy Apgar and Charles Prough testified Wednesday that they were the last two people to leave the bar that night.

Apgar said she remembers Lobik sitting quietly, intently avoiding human contact. She watched as he walked into the restroom. She was sure he never came out, she said. "It was a straight line of my vision," she said. "I couldn't have missed it."

Prough said in his testimony that he bumped into Lobik as Lobik entered the bathroom. Later, when helping out Heyliger by checking the bathroom to make sure no one was there, Prough didn't see anyone lurking, he said.

Lobik told officers in 2004 that he smoked crack in the men's restroom ceiling. Sixteen years earlier he denied ever being in the ceiling's crawl space.

Apgar said she asked Heyliger if she wanted them to wait. The cleaning man was running late. Heyliger said no, Apgar said.

They heard her lock the door and Apgar waved goodbye through the window, she said.

A few hours later, janitor Bernard Page called owner Sammy Austin, hysterical, Austin said.

"He kept screaming that Susie was dead," she said in testimony.

Austin said in her testimony that a sales slip showed someone pressed the no-sale key at 2:33 a.m. That was the quick way to open the cash register, Austin said. Prosecutors showed pictures of the untouched tip jar next to the looted cash register. Austin also identified broken marble pieces found by police as a bowling trophy displayed in the bar.

Steve Nelson, a defense attorney, asked several witnesses how they were able to remember a specific night 21 years ago.

"It's very important to me," Apgar said. "It still stays very fresh in my mind."

The trial is scheduled to continue today.

Jackie Alexander can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or jdalexander@sptimes.com .

Two Largo bar patrons and owner recall '87 slaying 07/23/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 7:45pm]
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