Former Flushing resident found guilty in 1995 cold case

By Alex Robinson

Almost 20 years after Jason Kollmann was stabbed to death on a Flushing rooftop, a man was convicted of his murder Wednesday.

On Feb. 1, 1995, Kollmann was stabbed 15 times and dragged across the roof of an apartment building, at 43-43 Kissena Blvd., before he was thrown onto a fifth-story fire escape and left to die.

The case remained unsolved for years until new testimony by two witnesses led the NYPD’s cold case squad to Andrew Caballero, 39, who was then charged with second-degree murder in 2012.

The jury found Caballero guilty after two days of deliberating following a two-week trial in Queens Criminal Court.

Nadia Sierra, who lived in the building with Caballero at the time, and Oscar Balarezo, a friend, testified they saw the defendant coming out of the building’s elevator soaked with blood shortly after he allegedly got into an altercation with Kollmann, who was 21 at the time.

Robert Didio, Caballero’s defense attorney, argued Sierra and Balarezo’s testimony was not credible as there were a number of inconsistencies in their memories of that day.

“These are two accounts that do not mesh,” he said in closing arguments Monday.

Didio said Balarezo was pressured by detectives when he was approached in 2011 about the case because there was an open warrant for his own arrest on a misdemeanor charge.

He also questioned Balarezo’s ability to recall the events correctly as he said he had gone up to the roof that evening to smoke marijuana when he allegedly saw Caballero take multiple swings at Kollmann.

“These are witnesses who should not be believed,” he said. “They were fabricating testimony to deflect attention from themselves.”

Assistant District Attorney Karen Ross maintained the witnesses had no reason to lie and that they did not come forward sooner because they were frightened by Caballero.

“Was it more likely that she was afraid?” she asked the jury of Sierra. “Was it more likely that the defendant threatened her?”

Ross also said there were bound to be inconsistencies as so much time had gone past.

Didio also pointed to the lack of any DNA evidence that could link Caballero to Kollmann’s murder. Blood smears were found on the roof, the fire escape and a railing in the stairwell, but none was found in the elevator, where Sierra and Balarezo said they saw Caballero come out of drenched in blood.

“It is scientific evidence that contradicts their testimony,” Didio said.

Balarezo testified that after he witnessed Caballero throw punches at Kollmann, he took off, running down the stairwell to a lower floor where he and Sierra said they saw the defendant exit the elevator.

Prosecutors said Caballero had lived with Sierra in the Kissena Boulevard building for a few more weeks after Kollmann’s death before she begged him to leave. He allegedly admitted to her he killed Kollmann because he wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody, prosecutors said.

“He wanted to know and he found out,” Ross said.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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