The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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June 14, 2014

DA, defenders tight-lipped on plea deal talks

— SUNBURY — The prosecutor in the murder case against Elytte and Miranda Barbor and those defending the Selinsgrove couple won’t say whether a plea deal is being negotiated that could avoid costly trials that may also draw worldwide attention.

Northumberland County District Attorney Anthony Rosini says he won’t talk about the case.

“I’m not permitted to discuss any plea negotiations,” Rosini said in an email.

Neither will Sunbury attorney James Best, who is representing Mr. Barbour, or Northumberland County chief public defender Ed Greco, who is defending Mrs. Barbour.

Rosini has been granted permission to seek the death penalty against the former North Carolina residents who moved to Snyder County just three weeks before the body of Troy LaFerrara, 42, of Port Trevorton, was found in a city alley on Nov. 12 with more than 20 stab wounds.

A plea deal would avoid the media circus and the cost of either changing locations for the trial or trying to find an impartial jury in a case that has been reported by major news organizations around the globe.

Elytte Barbour allegedly told police the couple, married just three weeks before LaFerrara was murdered, wanted to kill “someone, anyone” just for the thrill. Revelations of occult practices, Mrs. Barbour’s Craigslist ad offering companionship that was accepted by LaFerrara, and Mrs. Barbour’s jailhouse statement that she had killed at least 22 people only increased media attention.

Edward Olexa said he is unfamiliar with the Barbours’ case other than seeing it on mainstream media. The former Luzerne County assistant district attorney and current criminal defense attorney agreed to discuss legal issues while insisting he was not offering legal advice.

“Plea agreements, oftentimes, in effect, represent a compromise settlement between the commonwealth and a criminal defendant,” he said. “Although each plea agreement has to be considered carefully, and on a case-by-case basis, district attorneys sometimes offer to remove some of the harshest possible outcomes and penalties, such as the death penalty or incarceration, in exchange for a guilty plea.”

If the case does go to trial, a jury may have to be summoned from a distance because of the amount of exposure the Barbours have received.

“Criminal trials often are more expensive than criminal guilty pleas because they tend to consume more of an attorney and his staff’s time, both in preparation for trial as well as in actually litigating the case,” Olexa said. “In additional to legal fees, there can also be special costs associated with going to trial.”

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