By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Jeffrey Locker switched the beneficiaries of his life insurance plans and applied for several new multi-million dollar policies in the weeks before he was found stabbed to death in his SUV, insurance representatives testified Tuesday.
He did so to protect his family from creditors he worried would try to collect on the massive debt he acquired prior to his death, and to try to ensure a hefty payout for them, a lawyer for Locker's alleged killer said he would argue.
East Harlem resident Kenneth Minor has admitted to stabbing the Long Island father to death in a pre-arranged assisted suicide. He allegedly received Locker's credit card and PIN number as well as an iPhone as compensation.
Both the prosecution and the defense agree that Locker wanted to die.
Through the financial witnesses who testified Tuesday, jurors heard about the legal frenzy Locker embarked on as he prepared for his own death in the summer of 2009.
For the first time at trial Tuesday, Minor's lawyer alluded to the possibility that Locker's family may have known about his orchestrated death.
"Within four days of the death you already received a demand or a claim for the $4 million, correct?" defense attorney Daniel Gotlin asked John Hancock claims manager Edward Flaherty.
Flaherty said that the company had paid out a sum of $4 million, which they did not contest because his policies were more than two years old.
"For two years from the issue date of the policy we have the right to investigate, to verify, the answers given in the application for insurance," Flaherty explained to a Manhattan jury.
Several other insurances reps said their companies denied payouts to Locker's family because they'd discovered, after he died, that he lied about his income and his assets. Others are waiting to pay out anything pending their own investigations and the outcome of this trial.
All of the representatives said claims were not paid to deceased policy holders who committed suicide. They are permitted to withhold their payouts, pending investigation, for policies purchased within two years of a death.
Prosecutors said Locker had purchased a total of $18 million in life insurance policies from various companies. Locker switched the beneficiaries on his two John Hancock policies from his family to a trust fund that was set up by him to protect them from debt collectors, Gotlin has said.
Minor, 38, was charged with second degree murder for allegedly stabbing the 52-year-old Locker to death. The career motivational speaker was found inside his vehicle, parked near the RFK-Triboro Bridge, on July 16,
Testimony continued in Minor's trial Tuesday afternoon.