SUNBURY - Preliminary hearings for a couple accused of murdering a Port Trevorton man last month are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 20, before Magisterial District Judge Benjamin Apfelbaum at Northumberland County Courthouse.

The hearings for Miranda K. Barbour, 18, and her 22-year-old husband, Elyett Barbour, were moved to the courthouse for security reasons and to accommodate an anticipated large throng of media and the public.

The two are charged in the stabbing death of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara.

Miranda Barbour's hearing is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Her husband's hearing will start at 1:15 p.m. Both will be held in Courtroom 1 on the second floor.

Northumberland County Chief Public Defender Edward Greco, of Kulpmont, will represent Miranda Barbour, while independent conflicts counsel James Best, of Sunbury, will serve as Elyett Barbour's lawyer.

It's not yet known if testimony will be presented at the hearings or if the defendants will waive their cases to the Court of Common Pleas.

Previously, the hearings were scheduled for different dates.

Sunbury Police Chief Steve Mazzeo said Thursday authorities are still in the process of attempting to resolve certain issues that may lead them to other jurisdictions. When asked if that meant additional charges could be filed, the chief reserved comment.

Security

Mazzeo said the hearings were moved to the courthouse for several reasons. Normally, they would have been held in Apfelbaum's Sunbury office.

"It's a homicide case and we expect a lot of media there. But the primary reason the hearings got moved to the courthouse was for security. We all want to make sure things go smoothly," he said.

In addition to multiple police officers being in attendance, Northumberland County Sheriff Chad Reiner and his deputies will provide security.

Sunbury police, who filed homicide charges against the couple, said Miranda Barbour is accused of stabbing LaFerrara approximately 20 times with a knife while her husband strangled him with a cable from the backseat when all three were inside a vehicle in Sunbury between the evening hours of Nov. 11 and 11:30 a.m. Nov. 12, when the victim's body was found.

Investigators previously reported Elyett Barbour confessed the couple committed the crime because they wanted to "murder someone together."

The Barbours, who recently moved to 101 N. Water St., Selinsgrove, from North Carolina, are both imprisoned and not eligible for bail because of the homicide charge against each of them.

Miranda Barbour was charged Dec. 3 and Elyett Barbour Dec. 6.

Miranda Barbour first told police she acted alone, but Elyett Barbour admitted a few days later he was involved. He said he and Miranda had planned to murder someone, and LaFerrara "was just the one with whom the plan worked."

They had tried to kill others, according to the affidavit, but those didn't work out, Elyett Barbour told police.

Pre-planned signal

On the night of Nov. 11, police said Elyett Barbour hid under a blanket in the back seat of Miranda Barbour's 2001 Honda CRV when she drove to the Susquehanna Valley Mall to meet LaFerrara, who was married. They then drove to Sunbury and used a pre-planned signal for Elyett to know it was time "to kill the victim."

When the signal, which police did not identify, was given, Elyett Barbour used the cable to strangle and hold back LaFerrera's head while his wife stabbed him.

They dumped LaFerrara's body near an alley at the rear of 240 Catawissa Ave., Sunbury, where neighbors discovered the victim, police said.

Miranda Barbour told police she met men through the Internet, would spend time with them and was paid for her companionship.

In her admission to police, she said she stabbed LaFerrara, but did so after he groped her and grabbed her by the neck. She said she then drove around Sunbury for some time while the victim was choking and gasping for air. She told police she took LaFerrara's wallet from his pants before driving away.