Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Da: Money Trail Leads to Killer of 90-Year-Old

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Da: Money Trail Leads to Killer of 90-Year-Old

Article excerpt

Cuddy Briskin's expansive generosity made finding his killer last year even more difficult.

That's because, Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli said, the 90-year-old furrier from Squirrel Hill happily doled out money or odd jobs to people down on their luck.

He gave contractors cash to fix their vehicles. He gave those who were unemployed work to do.

And for Jason Kuhns, the estranged husband of Mr. Briskin's granddaughter, he provided a truck and a house.

But to Mr. Kuhns, that wasn't enough, Mr. Tranquilli told a jury on Tuesday.

"That man, Jason Eric Kuhns," the prosecutor said, pointing at the defendant, "bit the hand that fed him."

Mr. Kuhns, 36, of Latrobe is on trial this week, accused of beating Mr. Briskin to death with a tire iron on April 4, 2011.

Mr. Briskin, whose wife died just four months before him, was a World War II veteran who landed on D-Day. He took over his father's furrier business when he returned from the war and ran it into the mid-1990s.

His body was discovered two days after the attack, when Mr. Briskin's daughter walked in to his home and saw her father's body in a chair, his face wrapped inside three grocery bags, blood spatter all around him.

Police found the Fernwald Road residence in disarray, Mr. Tranquilli said.

He said it was unclear, however, what part of the mess was caused by the attack and what of it was caused by Mr. Briskin, who had let his housekeeping get out of hand during his wife's lengthy illness. Mr. Tranquilli described him as a hoarder.

The amount of material in the house, coupled with Mr. Briskin's generosity, made investigating the case and narrowing down the suspect list quite difficult, he said.

But police got their first big break in the case about two weeks after Mr. Briskin's body was found.

A detective in the Pittsburgh police pawn unit came across a slip that showed Mr. Kuhns had pawned silver coins the day after Mr. Briskin was killed.

"Twelve hours after Cuddy Briskin breathed his last, Jason Kuhns was on the South Side pawning silver coins that belonged to Cuddy Briskin," Mr. …

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