Barbour to be in court Friday; husband back in county jail
SUNBURY - A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday to determine if accused killer Miranda Barbour will be returned to Northumberland County Prison.
Meanwhile, her 22-year-old husband, Elytte Barbour, who also is charged with homicide in the Nov. 11 slaying of Troy LaFerrara, 42, of Port Trevorton, has been transferred from Columbia County Prison in Bloomsburg to the county jail in Sunbury.
Lawyers for both defendants and prosecutors met for more than two hours Wednesday afternoon to discuss issues pertaining to the case, particularly pre-trial motions filed by Miranda Barbour's attorney, Edward Greco, that will be argued at a future hearing.
A time frame for district attorney Tony Rosini to provide discovery evidence in the case to the defense also was discussed.
Wednesday's pre-hearing conference was held in Judge Charles Saylor's chambers and was not open to the public. The conference was held in the same time slot that an omnibus pre-trial motion hearing was scheduled before being postponed last week in an order issued by Saylor.
Attending were Saylor, Rosini, first assistant district attorney Ann Targonski, Greco, assistant public defender Paige Rosini and Elytte Barbour's attorney James Best. All the lawyers declined comment about the issues discussed at the conference upon leaving Saylor's office.
Miranda Barbour, 19, who remains in SCI-Muncy, did not attend, but she has been ordered to appear for Friday's hearing, which will be held solely to determine if Greco's request to transfer her back to Northumberland County Prison will be granted.
Greco, who was not aware his client was being moved to SCI-Muncy, claims the transfer violates her constitutional rights and harms his ability to prepare a defense since he won't have easy access to communicate with Barbour.
Northumberland County Prison Warden Roy Johnson, who decided to transfer Miranda Barbour to the women's state correctional institution Feb. 21, will testify at the hearing before Saylor. The warden must show just cause for his decision to transfer the defendant.
During Tuesday's prison board meeting, Johnson said the international attention about Barbour's claim to The Daily Item that she killed more than 22 people has disrupted security and efficiency at the prison, which among other issues, prompted her transfer.
The warden also said it costs the county $65 per day to house Barbour at SCI-Muncy, whereas it cost $100 per day to incarcerate her husband at Columbia County Prison, prompting Elytte's return.
County correctional officers transported the Barbours to their current facilities. The county sheriff's department was not involved in the transfers. Elytte Barbour arrived at Northumberland County Prison between 11 a.m. and noon Wednesday.
When asked Wednesday afternoon if Friday's hearing will still be held since Elytte Barbour is now in the county jail, Greco replied, "The hearing is still on as of now."
Separate jails, trials
Greco and Best previously said it was in the best interests of their clients to be housed in separate prisons as their cases proceed in court.
In addition to seeking separate trials, Greco's motions include a change of venue (moving the trial outside the county) and/or venire (selecting a jury from outside the county) because of the extensive publicity surrounding the case, in which some have dubbed the husband-and-wife Barbours as the "Craigslist killers" because LaFerrara answered Miranda Barbour's Internet ad offering companionship for money prior to being killed.
The defense is seeking to suppress statements, including an alleged confession given to police by Miranda Barbour during interviews Dec. 1 and 2.
Greco and Paige Rosini claim the alleged confession was obtained illegally because their client was not provided an attorney at the interviews despite repeatedly requesting one.
The attorneys are seeking all statements and police reports at least two weeks prior to a suppression hearing and want to hire a private investigator and computer/electronics expert to review LaFerrara's computer and cell phones.
The defense lawyers also want to quash aggravating circumstances in the case that would allow the commonwealth to seek the death penalty. Tony Rosini previously pointed out that police allege torture was used and a felony offense of robbery (LaFerrara's wallet was stolen) was committed during the killing. Torture and robbery are among 18 aggravating circumstances in death penalty cases in Pennsylvania.
The defense wants to sequester the jury and prevent any potential jurors in favor of the death penalty from being selected because they believe they would be "pro-prosecution and pro-conviction."
They also prefer having separate juries for the guilt and penalty phases of the trial and oppose the imposition of the death penalty.