CATSKILL — A state police investigator testified in Greene County Court on Wednesday that he saw murder suspect Carlos Graham operating an excavator near the Tool House Road property where Brandyn Dayne Foster’s body was found.
Graham’s trial began Wednesday with testimony from police and Foster’s mother, Bonnie Steinberg. Judge Terry Wilhelm is presiding over the case with a jury of eight women and six men. Two jurors are alternates.
Foster was shot in a bedroom at his ex-girlfriend, Sade Knox’s, Catskill home at 124 Tool House Road in January 2017.
Graham, 31, of Catskill, was charged Feb. 15, 2018, with second-degree murder and pleaded not guilty. He was additionally charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class C felony; third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and third-degree grand larceny, both class D felonies; concealment of a corpse and two counts of tampering with physical evidence, both class E felonies; at an indictment hearing in May 2018.
New York State Police Investigator Ben Ahrberg testified Wednesday that he went to Tool House Road in Catskill on Feb. 22, 2017, to inquire about Foster’s location.
Once he arrived, Ahrberg saw Graham operating the excavator outside 128 Tool House Road and questioned him.
Ahrberg asked Graham if he knew where Foster was. Graham replied he did not.
“He said something must have finally caught up with him [Foster],” Ahrberg recalled.
Woodstock police Sgt. Greg VanDeBogart testified Wednesday morning about the police department’s initial investigation into Foster’s disappearance, which started Jan. 30, 2017, after Steinberg filed a missing person report.
The police attempted to find Foster through his cell phone location, which was last traced near Westfield, Massachusetts, VanDeBogart said. Foster’s white Cadillac Escalade was later spotted parked at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Police told Steinberg her son was possibly seen on video footage taken at the casino.
Steinberg called VanDeBogart on Feb. 4, 2017, requesting to stop the search for Foster because she heard from him, he said, adding police could not cancel the missing person report until he saw Foster in person.
“I believe she told me she no longer wants us to look for Brandyn,” VanDeBogart said.
State police in Catskill assisted in searching Foster’s residence at 126 Tool House Road. State police took over the investigation after Steinberg told VanDeBogart she never spoke to Foster, the sergeant said.
Steinberg last heard from her son Jan. 25, 2017, when she wanted him to bring her grandson, then 9-year-old Jazzon, to see his grandfather Al Foster — a renowned jazz musician — play in New York City. Foster told her he couldn’t attend the performance, she said.
“He always told me he loved me, but told me ‘I can’t talk,’” Steinberg said of her son. “He said he couldn’t talk and abruptly hung up.”
Steinberg texted Brandyn the next day and received no reply. She continued reaching out to him for the next several days.
“I texted him constantly,” Steinberg said. “I kept calling and calling.”
Steinberg contacted Knox — who broke up with Foster in November 2016 — to ask her if her son’s car was at his Tool House Road home. Knox replied his car wasn’t there, Steinberg recalled.
Police told the concerned mother they discovered Foster’s car and video footage showing him with another man and woman at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort. Steinberg called Knox and she answered, but put her off, adding she would call back.
“I called Sade Knox because I thought she’d be interested and cared about my son,” Steinberg said.
When Knox called back, she confessed to Steinberg that she, Graham and Ashton Adams, of Catskill, were the three individuals seen in the casino’s security footage. Foster had to leave the area for a while, Knox told his mother over the phone, and instructed her to drive his car far away, Steinberg said.
“She was the one driving his car to Mohegan Sun,” Steinberg recalled of Knox.
Knox then claimed Brandyn wanted to buy her a ring, but was sworn to secrecy, Steinberg said.
“Brandyn made her swear not to tell me any of this,” the mother said.
When Steinberg tried to get possession of her son’s car, she contacted Knox again and Steinberg believed her son was in danger.
“I thought maybe someone was after him,” Steinberg said. “Wherever your car is, usually you are.”
Greene County Chief Assistant District Attorney David Costanzo asked Steinberg if she believed Knox.
“I, ashamed to say yes, I did,” she said. “I believed everything Sade told me.”