Bail request denied in 2013 murder case
SUNBURY - A Milton man charged with shooting to death his wife one year ago after claiming she was killed during a burglary was returned to county prison Thursday after a request to release him on bail was denied by Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest.
Attorney George Lepley Jr. of Williamsport requested bail be set in an amount his client, Robert Charles Thomas, 67, of 1060 Phillips Road, Milton, could afford to post. During the hearing, Lepley told the judge Thomas did not pose a flight risk because he was a lifelong area resident who has relatives in the area. The attorney said his client has cooperated with police during the investigation and was willing to wear an ankle monitor if released from prison.
But after District Attorney Ann Targonski argued that Thomas wasn't eligible for bail since he's facing a life sentence on the criminal homicide charge, Wiest did not establish a bail amount and ordered the defendant back to prison.
Thomas, who appeared in court wearing a county prison jumpsuit, was charged May 23 by Troopers Matthew LaForme and Cpl. Joseph Akers of state police at Milton with criminal homicide, making false reports to law enforcement authorities and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence in connection with the April 14, 2013, shooting death of his wife, Patricia.
Police said the defendant claimed his wife was shot while he was involved in an altercation with a burglar. Thomas told police he picked up a firearm from a nightstand before being "pounced on" by an unidentified burglar who "clubbed" him with an unknown object. The defendant said his gun may have discharged during the altercation, causing a bullet to hit and kill his wife.
During the course of their investigation, state police found Thomas' DNA on the Colt Defender 1911 .45-caliber handgun used in the shooting and also received information from several employees at Catherman's Garage Inc. Auto Body, Lewisburg, that Thomas indicated several times that "he would kill his wife if he thought he could get away with it." Thomas had retired from Catherman's Garage prior to the shooting.
The DNA, conversations with Thomas' former co-workers and other evidence led police to file the charges.
Targonski said she will not seek the death penalty in the case because no aggravating circumstances exist.
Assistant district attorney Michael Seward also represented the commonwealth at the hearing.
A brief pre-trial conference was held prior to the bail hearing.
Lepley is scheduled to file pre-trial motions and no new court date has been set.