The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 3, 2013

Snyder County murder suspect remains imprisoned pending retrial

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— MIDDLEBURG — A 20-year-old Mifflinburg man will remain in jail pending his retrial in February on third-degree murder charges for the March 2011 stabbing of Alan Martin.

Snyder-Union President Judge Michael H. Sholley on Thursday denied bail for Seth M. Hornberger, citing his prior problems obeying house-arrest rules.

Hornberger was found guilty by a Snyder County jury of third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter for the fatal stabbing of Martin, 21, of Winfield, in the kitchen of Thomas Bingaman’s Monroe Township apartment.

Hornberger argued the killing was self-defense and that he was trying to help his friend, Michael Lepley, who was being assaulted by Martin.

Sentencing was postponed pending an appeal and a few months later Sholley granted a new trial on the grounds that he gave the jury faulty instructions by telling them they should consider his duty to retreat from the home.

The defense argued that Hornberger was allowed in the home by Bingaman and had no duty to retreat from the dispute involving Martin, who was also a guest.

The State Superior Court upheld the judge’s decision and a new trial is scheduled for February.

Hornberger’s attorney, Edward “E.J.” Rymsza, of Williamsport, filed a motion to reduce the $100,000 cash bail so he could remain free for the next five months pending the new trial.

Rymsza said despite facing a maximum 20-year prison sentence if convicted, Hornberger isn’t a flight risk because of strong family ties in the area.

He also described the killing of Martin as an “isolated act” done in self-defense.

District Attorney Michael Piecuch opposed the bail reduction due to the seriousness of the alleged offense and Hornberger’s unwillingness to comply with county probation rules when he was allowed to remain free on house arrest in 2011 while awaiting his first trial in the spring of 2012.