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Coroner says fatal beating broke 17 of man's ribs

Raymond Francis Kocis was killed by a beating so severe that it left 17 of his ribs fractured, Medical Examiner Joan Wood testified Wednesday.

A person has 24 ribs, and Kocis' ribs suffered 25 fractures in all, Wood explained during the murder trial of Alan McCullers. Kocis' two lungs were partly collapsed as well.

McCullers, 30, and Robert Moore, 33, have been charged with first-degree murder in Kocis' death. The nude, battered body of the 60-year-old drifter was found beside a nearby dirt road on Oct. 25, 1992.

The men told detectives that they beat Kocis for trying to steal Moore's last two cigarettes.

A witness, Barbara Gilbert, testified Tuesday that she saw Moore and McCullers kick an unresponsive man, body-slam him and beat him in the head with a flashlight.

Kocis, who the state said had a history of mental illness and alcoholism, had a St. Petersburg address but drifted throughout the area.

He met the pair at a convenience store at the intersection of U.S. 41 and County Line Road in Shady Hills.

Moore and McCullers told Gilbert they had been giving Kocis a ride when he tried to grab the cigarettes, Gilbert said. The men were broke and couldn't afford to buy any more, so they beat Kocis, said Gilbert.

The men later dragged Kocis into Moore's car, dumped him beside a dirt road and cut his clothes off.

Still later that morning, McCullers took his girlfriend, Karen Simpson, to see the man they beat up. Simpson testified Tuesday that the man was snoring when she saw him, indicating that he was alive at the time.

McCullers' lawyer, public defender Doug Loeffler, said that there was no evidence that McCullers meant to kill Kocis. The crime was actually originally charged as a second-degree murder, a fact McCullers' jury was not allowed to hear.

Closing statements will be offered this morning. If convicted, McCullers could face the death penalty. Moore will not be tried until August.