Witnesses detail mall shooting in Kozak trial

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The first day of the Coral Ridge Mall homicide trial is an emotional one for witnesses.

By Bill Cooney   |   [email protected]

The first day in the trial of the accused killer of Andrea Farrington was an emotional one for those who knew the 20-year-old.

Opening arguments began at around 11 a.m., just after jury selection ended.

Assistant Johnson County prosecutor Naeda Elliott argued that Alexander Kozak, who is accused of killing Farrington, did so because she had damaged his self-esteem.

“She had committed what the defendant had considered to be a cardinal sin; she had bruised a man’s pride, this man,” Elliott said while pointing at Kozak.

Prosecutors say they seek to convict Kozak of first-degree murder.

Alfredo Parrish, Kozak’s defense attorney, did not dispute that Farrington had been shot by Kozak, but, he said, there were other factors at work.

“This horrific incident was set in motion before these two even met, because of a mental illness that began when Mr. Kozak was 15 years old,” Parrish said.

The defense disputes the charge of first-degree murder against Kozak.

Kozak and Farrington met while both were working at the Coral Ridge Mall and began communicating via texts in February 2015, according to both attorneys.

It was an off and on relationship that was, for the vast majority, through text messages, Elliott said. Farrington and Kozak were never physically involved and never spent time outside of work together. Kozak is married, and Farrington, before June 12, 2015, was dating and living with another man.

According to the opening arguments, communication between the two stopped from late April until June 5, one week before Farrington was killed on June 12. During their several months of a relationship, Farrington and Kozak texted each other more than 8,000 times, Parrish said.

“When they would stop talking, for whatever reason, Farrington would call Mr. Kozak’s supervisors at mall security and complain that he was harassing her,” Parrish said. “It got to the point where Mr. Kozak became so frustrated he quit his job and was going to move back to Texas.”

The first witness called by the prosecution was Kathryn Ogden of Coralville. Ogden said she had parked at the mall and was walking in to get some food for her and her husband when she was almost hit by a speeding blue car.

“I decided to wait for him to tell him to be more careful,” she said. “When he walked in, I told him he needed to watch where he was going, and he just kind of smiled at me and tipped his hat.”

Ogden said she recognized the hat as a fedora because her daughter “was obsessed” with them. The fedora was recognized by two other witnesses as having been worn by Kozak as he walked into the mall on June 12.

The next witness was Brinn Stanton-Anderson, who worked part-time cleaning the Iowa Children’s Museum. Stanton-Anderson said she was with her two sons when she saw the car later identified to be Kozak’s almost hit Ogden. She said she got a description of the car and saw the man who was driving it put on a black fedora after he parked.

“I thought it was strange someone who had just almost run someone over throw this hat on, cool as a cucumber,” Anderson said.

She said she knew Farrington from working at the museum.

“Anytime you saw her, she would have a giant smile on her face,” Anderson said while fighting back tears.

Next, Madison Tinkham, a 15-year-old from Cedar Rapids, took the stand. Madison said she saw Kozak walk into the mall and shoot Farrington three times in the back.

“As soon as I watched him walk by I went and grabbed my little sister because I knew something wasn’t right; he was walking very fast, like he was on a mission,” she said. “I saw him take out his gun and shoot the girl three times, then I saw her fall to her knees, then the floor.

“I saw her her face when she was on the ground; I can still see it today.”

Tinkham identified Kozak as the man she saw shoot Farrington, and also identified the black fedora as the one he was wearing on June 12.

The next witness was Olivia Bailey, a doctor at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics emergency department. She said Farrington had no pulse upon arriving at the hospital, and, despite the staff’s best efforts to revive her, she was pronounced dead at 8:05 p.m. June 12.

The final witness of the day was Carly Fridrich, who worked with Farrington at the Children’s Museum. She said she was with her when she was shot and said Farrington showed her a text conversation between her and Kozak that had taken place earlier in the day.

“I had just gotten off my shift and went to talk to Andrea at the welcome desk,” she said. “We talked for a while, until it happened. I didn’t realize what was going on until I saw Andrea fall, then I saw Alex standing behind her with a gun.”

Fridrich said she was close enough to “feel the puffs of air from the gun” as Kozak shot Farrington.

Before Parrish and the defense had a chance to cross-examine Fridrich, Judge Christopher Bruns called an end to the day’s proceedings.

The trial will continue today in Nevada.

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