Daniel Muka was wearing a chain he allegedly stole from a man he had murdered when police arrested him in Floriana, a court heard on Thursday.
Muka, an Albanian national, stands accused of murdering Chris Pandolfino and Ivor Maciejowski at their Sliema house on 18 August. Another man, North Macedonian national Viktor Dragomanski, has been charged separately with the murder, while a third suspect, Jesper Kristiansen has been arrested in Spain and is awaiting extradition.
Police Inspector James Grech testified on Thursday on the investigation that led to the identification of the murder suspects and Muka’s eventual arrest in an abandoned Floriana apartment.
Grech said that Muka was wearing a chain similar to Pandolfino’s when he was arrested, a revelation that elicited disgust from the victim’s relatives who were sitting at the back of the courtroom.
Grech said the motive for the double murder so far was theft. He explained that pendants from gold chains that were around Pandolfino’s neck were found on the floor inside the victim’s house, leading investigators to believe that these chains were stolen.
Grech said Pandolfino was found dead near the entrance, wearing just his underwear, while the other victim was found upstairs.
Pandolfino was still wearing one of the gold necklaces, and several pendants were strewn on the floor.
Grech said that marks near the doorway indicated that the door to the residence was forced open. Reconstructing what might have happened, Grech said Muka rang the doorbell and when Pandolfino opened he tried closing back the door but was overwhelmed.
Once the three men were inside, Pandolfino was shot five times, while upstairs, Maciejowski was shot once in the head.
Grech said CCTV footage traced the getaway car all the way to the St Luke’s Hospital car park in Pieta.
Footage also captured the man waiting on a bus stop, with one of then entering a shop to ask for a Wifi password.
The three men then took a Bolt taxi that was traced to Kristiansen.
Pandolfino and Maciejowski were murdered in their house on Locker Street in Sliema.
According to CCTV footage, the killers entered the property at 10:19pm, just nine minutes after Pandolfino had entered his house.
The three men left the building at 10:23pm, spending a total of four minutes inside the residence.
The getaway car, a white VW Tiguan had stolen number plates on it and the police found Muka’s fingerprints on the car. “DNA on a blue shirt in the luggage boot matched both the victims’ and Muka’s,” Grech testified.
He added that Muka and the other man accused of the murder kept repeating to police that this was not their plan. “I don’t know… they just picked me up,” the inspector recounted to the court what Muka had told them.
The case continues.
Magistrate Nadine Lia is presiding. Inspectors James Grech and Colin Sheldon are prosecuting. Lawyers Noel Bianco and George Anthony Buttigieg are defence counsel. Lawyer Joe Giglio and Roberta Bonello are appearing as parte civile for the family of the victims.
Follow the compilation live, below:
14:33 This brings today’s sitting to an end. Thank you for following.
14:33 On the day, Inspector Sheldon and court experts will be testifying. The court orders the acts of the case to be remitted to the Attorney General.
14:32 The case continues 8 October 11:30am.
14:32 The court asks whether the prosecution has further evidence for the purposes of prima facie. The prosecution asks for the prima facie decree to be given today. The defence doesn’t object.
14:31 The court appoints an expert to transcribe the accused’s statement to the police.
14:31 The witness is finished testifying.
14:24 The officer says a VW key that matched the Tiguan was found inside a Peugeot car that had been rented out by Muka.
14:23 Muka sits expressionless as he listens to the police officer testifying.
14:22 The officer says that a necklace, a ring, mobiles, and clothes were recovered from the Floriana place.
14:21 Muka was arrested after a police raid on a vacant residence in Floriana, he adds.
14:21 The officer tells the court that the three men left in a Bolt taxi and this was traced back to Jasper Kristiansen.
14:20 He says that the parking area where the car was found was the St Luke’s Hospital car park. Police noticed cut cable ties near the car’s number plate and on the ground. The subjects were also captured on the bus stop and one of them entered a cafe and spoke to an employee there. The employee was spoken to and said that the man had asked for Wifi.
14:18 The police officer recounts how the VW Tiguan, the getaway car, was located. He lists the CCTV cameras from which footage was examined. It’s a long list.
14:17 Grech steps off the witness stand and a police sergeant from the homicide squad is next to testify.
14:16 Grech: “Muka said ‘I don’t know, it’s not my plan they just picked me up’ and so on. The other person said the same.”
14:15 “But how did they know this?” asks the lawyer.
14:15 The police established that the accused knew the victims had valuables in their house, Grech says.
14:14 The court asks whether so far, the motive was theft. “Yes,” replies the witness.
14:13 The inspector says that the police did not have this information at this time. Both Muka and the other suspects said it was not their idea, he adds.
14:13 From the course of your investigations, when was this theft planned and why was it targeted, asks the lawyer.
14:12 The inspector is asked about the moment when the three men forced their way into the house. “The door was forced open but Muka also rang the doorbell,” Grech says. He surmises that the person who opened the door tried to close it after seeing a number of people, which explains the forceful entry.
14:11 We’ve been invited back inside the courtroom. Lawyer Joe Giglio, appearing parte civile, is cross-examining the witness.
13:53 We are out of the courtroom.
13:52 The magistrate says that at this stage of the process, the defence requests that any statement by the accused be read out behind closed doors. The prosecution and the parte civile do not object and the court orders that the courtroom be vacated by everyone except for the parties, staff and two warders.
13:50 Lawyer Noel Bianco, appearing for Muka, asks for the press to be ordered out of the courtroom for his and his client’s security while the accused’s statement is being read out. The lawyer asks to approach the bench and is permitted to do so. Lawyers, including George Camilleri from the AG, and the inspector form a huddle around the magistrate’s desk as they discuss the issue.
13:47 Grech says that when arrested, Muka was wearing a gold chain similar to Pandolfino’s. Pandolfino’s relatives at the back of the courtroom express disgust.
13:46 The police found two laptops, four mobiles, clothes and shoes inside the abandoned building. A pair of running shoes were also found with a lot of blood on the bottom.
13:44 Grech: “We knew that six shots were fired [during the murder]. There were 11 rounds in the magazine. We know the Glock takes 17 rounds so we know that the Glock was fully loaded before the shooting.”
13:43 The inspector says that an informant told the police that someone was living in an abandoned building. He says the police raided the building and arrested Muka. A Glock pistol with 11 rounds in the magazine was seized.
13:42 The inspector tells the court that Muka’s fingerprints were found on the car. “DNA on a blue shirt in the luggage boot matched both the victims’ and Muka’s,” Grech says.
13:41 Muka kept on signing his bail book after the incident until 21 August.
13:41 Cell records and localisation data put Muka’s phone at 8:22pm near Portomaso. It was switched off until 11:24pm and was captured near a hotel in Gżira. The phone was off at the time of the shooting.
13:40 Police later found that he was asking for the Wifi password. The man was not wearing a mask when entering the shop.
13:39 Grech says the tall man was recognised as Muka by the police officer, who knows him from his previous cases. A shop with CCTV near a bus stop, showed how at 10:53pm, one of the trio entered the outlet and asked something from an employee.
13:37 CCTV stills of the man are exhibited in court.
13:37 A police officer who was there when Muka signed his bail book before the murder had told investigators that the man was wearing an elbow support. Muka had been granted bail in a separate case from three years ago.
13:36 The inspector tells the court that CCTV cameras in Pieta captured the tall man walking downhill followed by the other two. The tall one was seen drinking from a bottle or a can. He was wearing an elbow support on his right hand.
13:35 Grech says that masks, gloves, a wig, an imitation AK47 assault rifle and another imitation rifle were found in the luggage boot. Number plates were also found inside it.
13:33 Grech says that the last time the car was spotted was at St Luke’s hospital. Police located the vehicle in a car park with a different set of stolen number plates. A brown handbag was found inside the car containing business cards belonging to Pandolfino’s sister.
13:31 Grech tells the court that the VW Tiguan, which was used as the getaway car, was identifiable from a roof rack. It was tracked through Sliema streets towards Kappara, Regional Road to Sta Venera, and through Pieta, only 10 minutes after the double homicide.
13:29 On 14 August 2020, the plates were captured on a Peugeot 107 in Msida. The plates were originally issued to a Seat Cordoba.
13:28 The inspector tells the court that the number plates on the getaway vehicle were stolen. He presents a report on the stolen plates to the magistrate.
13:26 Grech continues that at 10:23pm, the suspects left the building. He says that three men were in the house.
13:25 Inspector Grech says that CCTV footage showed that at 10:10pm Pandolfino arrived home. At 10:19pm, CCTV shows a tall male subject carrying a man bag accompanied by a shorter chubbier man wearing striped trousers entering the house.
13:23 Muka, hair dyed orange, sits unblinking in the dock and listens to the inspector speak.
13:23 Once the men were inside, Pandolfino was shot five times. Upstairs, Maciejowski was shot once in the head.
13:22 The inspector tells the court that marks indicated that the door to the residence was forced open.
13:21 Grech says that Christian Pandolfino was found dead near the entrance, wearing just his underwear, while the other victim was found upstairs. Pandolfino was still wearing one of the gold necklaces, and several pendants were strewn on the floor indicating that the necklaces were stolen.
13:20 Inspector Grech says that another resident heard the gunshots and saw the persons leaving in the car.
13:20 A witness who was smoking a cigarette on a roof saw the movements and confirmed the information to the police. The men had left the building carrying a brown bag, the eyewitness told the police.
13:19 Grech testifies that three men had entered the residence between 10:19pm and 10:23pm and after shots were heard inside, they left the scene in a white VW car with number plate JET082.
13:18 On the 18 August at about 10:30pm he was informed by the police control room that there was a shooting at Locker Street in Sliema.
13:18 Inspector James Grech takes the stand.
13:17 Muka enters the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit. His sitting finally starts.
12:24 Relatives of Christian Pandolfino have entered the courtroom.
12:19 We are still waiting for the sitting to start. The magistrate is clearing other cases that were before her.
11:44 The compilation of evidence will be heard by Magistrate Nadine Lia. Muka’s sitting has not yet started.
11:33 We’re reporting from a packed Hall 9, waiting for murder suspect Daniel Muka to be brought in.
11:31 Good morning.