By Ashley M. Wislock
and Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG — Two men acquitted of murder charges tossed Tootsie Rolls and hard candy from the cab of a Ford F-150 at Thursday night’s Firemans Carnival Parade, the pickup truck adorned with large signs trumpeting their not guilty verdict in May.
In the truck were Chris Aucker and Robert L. Reich, two of the three defendants acquitted after a nine-day trial in the 1997 slaying of Donald Seebold II.
A third acquitted defendant, Ryan C. Sprenkel, was not in the parade.
“He didn’t want to come tonight,” Aucker said of Sprenkel.
Aucker, 39, of Beavertown, is a married, father of two and said the 14 months he spent in Snyder County Jail waiting for his day in court have changed his life.
“It’s very difficult,” he said. “I’ve been out three months now and I’m just trying to stay focused.”
During Thursday’s parade — an annual tradition attended by thousands of Middleburg and Valley residents — Aucker struck back in a big way, using two huge banners to reveal exactly where he places the blame for the trio’s prosecution.
The 4-foot by 6-foot signs on his truck featured red lettering on a blue background and had pictures of Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch and Middleburg District Judge Lori Hackenberg heading into a garbage can.
Next to those images are pictures of the three defendants under large, red letters that read “NOT GUILTY.”
The signs also question the $17,000 cost of the trial, an estimate Piecuch released following the trio’s acquittal.
Aucker said the signs were his idea, but that he asked his former co-defendants for their blessing before finalizing plans.
“I thought about doing this the day after the verdict,” he said about an hour before the parade. “The media portrayed us all as bad guys, but we’re not and wanted everyone to know that.”
Aucker said he heard some cheers as he drove in the parade, “and a few boos, too. But I’m 100 percent glad that I did this. I have absolutely no regrets.”
Aucker is still angered at authorities, particularly Piecuch.
“I’d like to know how you can close a case like this, even after three people are acquitted,” Aucker said.
Charges against Aucker’s wife, Sheila Liddington Aucker, and Reich’s aunt, Linda Thomas — accused of lying to a grand jury about the events surrounding Seebold’s death — were dropped when Aucker, Sprenkel and Reich were found not guilty.
For Piecuch, the case that sparked Thursday’s protest is a done deal. Following the verdict, Piecuch said there would be no more investigation into Seebold’s death.
“I respect the jury’s verdicts,” Piecuch said at the time, “but I also consider this case closed.”
2 of 3 parade verdict; banners castigate prosecutor, district judge
By Ashley M. Wislock
Blighted block going bye-bye in Atlas
Nearly an entire township block in Atlas will be torn down in Mount Carmel Township, utilizing funds from Northumberland County and its Housing Authority in an effort to fight blight. Half of this block is proposed to be developed as low-income senior living units.
Coming Sunday: Browsing for brows
As makeup sales soar, four tips to make your eyebrows raise others'. Coming Sunday
Deadly storm strikes Virginia campground
A fierce storm packing powerful winds and rain toppled trees and flipped campers Thursday at a Virginia campground this morning, killing at least two people and sending at least 20 more to hospitals, officials said.
Official: Air Algerie flight ’probably crashed’
An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria’s capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali and “probably crashed,” according to the plane’s owner and government officials in France and Burkina Faso.
Israeli fire hits UN facility in Gaza, killing 15
Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.
How Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, executions went awry
Since the start of the year, executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have gone awry, with inmates gasping for breath as lethal drugs coursed through their bodies.
- Today's Editorial: One more job appears at risk
Conflict in Israel grounds Sunbury rabbi
TEL AVIV, Israel — While the Israelis and Hamas traded rocket and missile strikes for a 16th day, Rabbi Nina Mandel is struggling to find her way back to Sunbury after the FAA on Wednesday announced that it would extend its ban on travel at Ben-Gurion International Airport for another 24 hours.
Danville woman dies as logging truck crushes car in Valley Township
DANVILLE — An 84-year-old Danville woman was killed when her car and a logging truck collided Wednesday afternoon at Routes 642 and 54 in Valley Township.
Docs: Fractures helped save rock victim's life
DANVILLE — Sharon Budd’s condition is progressing nearly a week after a 13 1/2-hour procedure in which a team of surgeons rebuilt her facial bones and removed a damaged part of her brain, said two Geisinger Health System physicians who are part of that team
- More News Headlines
- Blighted block going bye-bye in Atlas