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Witness recounts waking to a beating

Barbara Gilbert woke to the sounds of a man being kicked to death over cigarettes.

It was well after midnight when she looked out the window of her Shady Hills home and saw two friends beating a motionless stranger. William McCullers and Robert Lewis Moore were doing the battering, Gilbert said Tuesday at McCullers's murder trial.

The other man, she later learned, was 60-year-old Raymond Francis Kocis, whose nude, battered body was found beside a nearby dirt road on Oct. 25, 1992.

"They kicked on him for a while, and then Robby picked him up and body-slammed him," Gilbert said. "After Robby body-slammed him a couple times, Alan did, too."

The men told her the beating was for an attempt to filch Moore's last two cigarettes, she testified. She tried to stop them, to push them away from their victim, Gilbert said. But they insisted he deserved the beating.

Gilbert took the stand Tuesday in the second day of McCullers' trial for first-degree murder. McCullers, 30, and Moore, 33, were arrested a week after Kocis was found.

McCullers' lawyer, public defender Doug Loeffler, waived an opening statement. A likely defense is that McCullers did not intend to kill Kocis and left him alive.

If convicted, McCullers could face the death penalty. Moore will not be tried until August.

According to the state, Kocis, a drifter who had a history of mental and alcohol-related illnesses, met his killers at a convenience store. He was 5 foot 8 and weighed 112 pounds.

Kocis asked the men for a dollar and then begged them for a ride. In Moore's car, he grabbed for the cigarettes, investigators said.

Gilbert said that when the men tired of beating their limp target, they dragged him about 25 feet, across a road, and threw him into bushes. She told them to take the man home, she said, and they retrieved him and tossed him in the back of Moore's car.

Later, when they returned, Gilbert said, they told her they had never been there and that nothing had happened.

They also told her they threw the man into a canal. McCullers said it made a funny noise, Gilbert said: " "You should have heard him splat.' "