116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NEVADA – Andrea Farrington never thought June 12, 2015, would be the last day of her 'dream job' at the Iowa Children's Museum in the Coral Ridge Mall.
She didn't live to see the end of that day, much less her 21st birthday days later, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday at the start of a murder trial, because she had broken the 'cardinal sin. She bruised this man's ego.'
Assistant Johnson County Attorney Naeda Elliott was referring to mall security guard-turned-murder defendant Alexander Kozak, who both the prosecution and defense agree shot Farrington inside the Coralville mall.
His trial was moved to Story County on a change of venue because of extensive publicity. Kozak, 23, is accused of shooting Farrington three times in the back as she was working at the mall's welcome center desk.
A jury was selected and testimony began Thursday. The small courtroom was packed with Farrington's family and friends, who took up most of one side. Several of Kozak's family and friends sat on the opposite side.
Farrington and Kozak met in February 2015 and they started exchanging text messages, Elliott said during her opening statement.
But it never went beyond that, the prosecutor said. Farrington was in a relationship with someone else and Kozak was married.
The two stopped texting on April 29, 2015. But then Kozak started sending her texts again about a month later, Elliott said. Farrington became uncomfortable with his texts, telling him they 'creeped' her out.
The day Kozak shot her, the prosector said, Farrington told him she was seeing someone else.
In a text message to a friend that day, Kozak wrote that he was going home 'to get my glock and shoot Andrea Farrington.'
Kozak turned in his mall security keys but kept his handcuffs and pepper spray. He went to his North Liberty home and changed into black clothes and a black fedora. He packed a bag with a 9 mm Glock pistol, four loaded magazines, another ammunition case, binoculars, hatchets, knives and toiletries, Elliott said.
Then he headed back to the Coral Ridge Mall.
Alfredo Parrish, Kozak's defense attorney, painted a much different picture for jurors of their relationship.
He said the two had to keep their relationship out of the 'public eye' because he was married and she lived with someone. But they forged a bond, he said — one built out of loneliness and 'digital in nature.'
They shared '8,000' texts, hugged only twice and talked at the mall, he said.
Parrish said when the two were on the outs, Farrington would call Kozak's supervisors to claim he was harassing her.
'There will be no dispute that Alexander Kozak killed Andrea,' Parrish said.
Instead, the defense will call experts to argue that Kozak had a mental condition, which started at age 15.
Parrish told jurors that this was no first-degree murder; that they should consider a lesser charge.
Prosecution witnesses told of being horrified as they encountered the man in the black fedora at the mall that Friday evening.
Madison Tinkham, 15 of Cedar Rapids, was with family members and was watching her little sister play mini golf near the welcome center when she saw a man in black.
'He was walking fast and was focused ... on a mission,' Tinkham, a 10th-grader at Prairie High School, testified. 'He looked suspicious.'
Madison said she grabbed her sister because she knew something was wrong.
'I saw him pull out a gun and shoot Andrea three times,' said Madison, tearing up. Farrington didn't see him coming, the teen testified.
Carly Fridrich, who worked with Farrington at the museum and was a good friend, said she at first she didn't see anyone — only heard the shots.
Then she saw Farrington go down with Kozak nearby.
'I felt a puff of air in my face,' Fridrich said. 'I was close enough to feel the pressure of the gun in my face.'
Before the shooting, Kathryn Ogden of Coralville said she saw a man speed around the corner in the parking lot, driving a blue Kia.
She was getting out of her car when he almost hit her in the walkway. He was playing his music loud and was dressed in black.
Ogden said she waited in the mall entrance for him because she was going to warn him about driving so fast.
When he walked by, she told him he needed to slow down. He smiled and tipped his fedora.
She then noticed an 'unusual bulge' in one of his pants pockets. She she saw him reach down and saw a gun come out. Kozak fired three times.
'I saw the flash,' Ogden testified. 'He was probably 25 feet in front of me.'
The prosecution continues its case 9 a.m. Friday. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Replay of a liveblog from the trial