As jury selection continues in the trial of a man accused of beating his girlfriend to death with a curling iron, the family of the victim looks to honor their daughter by giving back to the community they know she loved.
Becky and Mark Kogut are donating to three organizations, in memory of their daughter, Alexandra Kogut.
The Koguts are putting the first grants from the fund set up in Alexandra's memory to the Town of Inlet, the Utica Dollars for Scholars Program, and the Literacy Coalition of Herkimer and Oneida counties Incorporated.
The grant to the Town of Inlet will allow for the purchase of a double-seated lifeguard chair at the lake where Alexandra worked as a lifeguard.
The donation to the Dollars for Scholars Program will go toward a scholarship for a graduating high school senior in Oneida or Herkimer counties, like Alexandra, a 2012 graduate of New Hartford High School.
Her parents say the grant toward the Literacy Coalition of Herkimer and Oneida counties is symbolic of their daughter's love of reading. It will help support a fundraising event this September to raise money for small community literacy grants.
"When our beautiful daughter and sister, Alex, was taken from this world much too soon, we were entrusted with funds from various avenues and asked to utilize these funds to honor and remember her," Alexandra's mother Becky Kogut said in a release to CNYCentral. "Alex was a hard-working young woman who cared about her community as a whole and was a positive role model to any young person who had the pleasure to meet her."
The Koguts set up the fund in Alexandra's memory at the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida counties, which continues to help her family select charities that share the same qualities Alexandra had.
"The Foundation is assisting us in ensuring agencies and individuals that embody qualities that Alex possessed will benefit from monies raised in her name. The charities chosen are ones that would have touched Alex's kind heart," Becky said.
Alexandra died in September, 2012, in her SUNY Brockport dormitory room, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend, Clayton Whittemore.
Whittemore's trial started Monday, in Monroe County Court, after being delayed several times.
In March, his attorney was given more time to review psychiatric reports.
It's expected Whittemore will claim he was emotionally disturbed at the time of Alexandra's death, which could allow for a conviction of a lesser charge. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, but previously admitted to authorities that he snapped when he attacked the 18-year-old Kogut.