The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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May 19, 2014

Judge: Miranda Barbour will face the death penalty

SUNBURY — A Northumberland County judge today denied a defense request to take the death penalty off the table if murder suspect Miranda Barbour is convicted of first-degree murder.

Judge Charles Saylor ruled that if jurors find Mrs. Barbour guilty of first-degree murder, they will be permitted to consider torture and robbery as “aggravating circumstances” that could justify the death penalty in the Nov. 11 stabbing death of Troy LaFerrara of Port Trevorton.

Barbour, 19, and her husband, Elytte Barbour, 22, are both charged in the case. Elytte Barbour also faces the death penalty.

Court-appointed defense attorney Ed Greco argued in mid-April that an autopsy report does not support Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini’s assertion that the homicide was committed by means of torture, one of 18 possible aggravating circumstances.

In a court opinion issued Monday, Saylor noted that Mrs. Barbour had a knife readily available and Mr. Barbour was waiting in the backseat with a cord to strangle LaFerrara.

LaFerrara was stabbed up to 20 times, Northumberland County Coroner Jim Kelley reported. An autopsy report indicates cutting wounds to the face, multiple stab wounds to the neck, shoulder and chest areas and that strangulation may have played a role in LaFerrara’s death as well, Saylor wrote.

Saylor said the Barbours were seen in a red car on security camera footage in a Routes 11-15 department store parking lot at 9:39 p.m. on Nov. 11 where they admitted they went to get supplies to clean up blood inside the vehicle.

Saylor also cited Mrs. Barbours Valentine’s Day interview with The Daily Item in which she claimed to have taken $150 from LaFerrara after she said she stabbed him.

The Barbours were originally going to dinner on Nov. 11 when Mrs. Barbour received a text message from LaFerrara, Saylor wrote. There was a text message on Mrs. Barbour’s phone sent to LaFerrara at 8:42 p.m. on Nov. 11 and his body was discovered in an alley behind Catawissa Avenue, the next day, Saylor cited.

Saylor also said Mrs. Barbour claimed in her jailhouse interview that the couple wanted “to do it together,” yet she the was one in control.

Greco challenged the robbery charge on the basis it is unclear whether LaFerrara was alive or conscious when the wallet was taken.

“This argument is totally misplaced as an individual commits robbery if in the course of a theft she inflects serious bodily injury on another,” Saylor wrote. “There can be no greater force than what was used here.

“The evidence tends to show a desire to get from Mr. LaFerrara all of the money on his person that evening,” Saylor wrote. “In connection with the acts of violence, defendant (Mrs. Barbour) took his (LaFerrara) wallet, this prima facie evidence of a robbery.”

Saylor also said Greco’s argument on a conspiracy charge fails because there is evidence of a plan with Mr. Barbour was hiding in the back of his wife’s vehicle, concealed under a blanket, with a black cord and he sprang into action after being tapped on the leg. These circumstances, along with the taking of the wallet and then proceeding to the department store to purchase supplies to clean the car, show mutual concerted action on the Barbours part, Saylor ruled.

The Commonwealth has evidence that can support either one of the aggravating circumstances at this time, Saylor said. A jury will consider these questions if Mrs. Barbour is convicted of first-degree murder.

Pennsylvania is one of 32 states with the death penalty. There are 18 aggravating circumstances that can lead to a death sentence, including torture and an associated felony such as robbery.

 

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