The man accused of burglarizing a model’s Main Line apartment just days before she was murdered is heading to trial, a Montgomery County judge ruled Tuesday.
The decision came after Lower Merion detectives testified that Andre Melton confessed to robbing Christina Carlin-Kraft, first to his brother and then to police, saying, “I took her stuff, but I didn’t kill her."
Melton, 31, was arrested last month in his native Southwest Philadelphia, ending a months-long search for the man who authorities say stole $10,000 worth of jewelry, keys, and the title to a BMW, a Social Security card, credit cards, high-end handbags, and other items belonging to Carlin-Kraft.
Later that week, the 36-year-old model was found dead in her Ardmore apartment. Authorities have said the murder and the robbery are unrelated.
Jonathan Wesley Harris, 31, of Johnstown, was charged in the murder and is set to go to trial in May.
Melton is charged with burglary, criminal trespass, and related offenses. He was released from jail last month on $25,000 bail, but was arrested again before his preliminary hearing on Tuesday for failing to show up in court in Philadelphia on Monday for a hearing on minor drug charges.
It remained unclear how Carlin-Kraft and Melton knew each other or when they met up the night of the burglary. Lower Merion Police Sgt. Michael Vice testified that Melton’s brother, Barry, told police Melton said he met a woman in the city, gave her a ride home, stole from her, but “wasn’t going down for a murder."
Days later, Vice said he got a call from Melton’s number. The caller. who identified himself as Melton, said he had been watching a preseason Eagles game when he saw a news report about the killing, and seemed concerned that he was a murder suspect, Vice said.
Melton’s attorney, Lawrence J. Bozzelli, argued prosecutors could not prove that the caller was Melton or that Carlin-Kraft hadn’t allowed Melton to enter her residence.
“There isn’t enough evidence to carry this case forward on any charges,” Bozzelli said.
Assistant District Attorney Roderick Fancher disagreed, pointing to video surveillance from the building’s lobby.
“What this shows is the defendant took advantage of a vulnerable woman,” Fancher said. “There is no reasonable inference that she permitted him to do what he did.”
Carlin-Kraft told police she woke up Aug. 18 and noticed belongings missing from her apartment in the Cambridge Square building on the 100 block of Sibley Avenue.
The night before, she had used the ride-hailing service Lyft to go to the upscale Sofitel Hotel in Center City. There, she told authorities, she drank an espresso martini and lost all memory of what occurred afterward.
Surveillance footage, coupled with electronic records from her unit’s security system, provide a fractured timeline of the night. Prosecutors showed some of those videos to Magisterial District Judge Michael P. Quinn on Tuesday.
At 10:50 p.m., the unit’s security system shows the front door closing, presumably when Carlin-Kraft left for the city, authorities said. Around 3:53 a.m., a man whom police identified as Melton is captured on the lobby’s camera walking alone into the building. An electronic key fob is needed to the enter the building, authorities said.
Next, at 5: 24 a.m, the man returns to the lobby with handbags and a cardboard box, which authorities believe contained Carlin-Kraft’s belongings.
Around 6:43 a.m., Carlin-Kraft is seen walking into her building unsteadily, supported by the man. Five minutes later, the camera captures the man leaving the building, police said.
Authorities tracked Carlin-Kraft’s stolen cards and obtained footage of Melton and another man using them at area convenience stores.
Police served a search warrant Aug. 22 at Melton’s Philadelphia home, but he was not there. That day, Carlin-Kraft’s boyfriend, Alexander Ciccotelli, who owned the Ardmore apartment and equipped it with the security system that aided authorities, called police to the apartment, where officers found her bloodied body.
Harris, who was captured on surveillance footage, was arrested in her murder, later telling a judge he strangled and beat Carlin-Kraft to death during a cocaine deal. Carlin-Kraft met Harris hours before her death in Center City, authorities said, and there was no indication they knew each other before then.
Meanwhile, Melton remained on the run for four months. He was arrested for marijuana possession during a traffic stop in Southwest Philadelphia, and the officers noticed the warrant out for his arrest in the Carlin-Kraft robbery.