SUNBURY - The attorney for accused murderer Miranda Barbour is requesting to hire a private investigator to assist the defense at trial.

Chief public defender Edward Greco filed a motion Friday asking Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor to appoint senior investigator Bernard E. Howard, of Stathill Investigations, Lewistown, as soon as possible to avoid any delays in the trial.

Greco said Howard will review search warrants in the homicide case, the background of murder victim Troy LaFerrara, 42, of Port Trevorton, and the circumstances surrounding his death.

Howard is requesting to be paid $90 per hour, including travel expenses. All of Howard's fees will be paid by the county, if the motion is granted by Saylor.

Greco's motion was the most recent filing in the case involving his 19-year-old client and her 22-year-old husband, Elytte Barbour. They are accused of killing LaFerrara, who was found stabbed to death in a backyard in Sunbury Nov. 11.

Earlier this month, Saylor granted a motion by Elytte Barbour's attorney James Best to appoint Jean M. Landis of Bethlehem as a mitigation expert to assist the lawyer in preparing a mitigation defense in the event his client's trial proceeds to the death penalty phase.

Landis will receive her customary rate of $100 per hour at a maximum of $5,000 for her services, which will be paid by the county since Barbour is indigent.

The order calls for Northumberland County Prison Warden Roy Johnson to grant Landis full access to the defendant so she can proceed with her investigation. If Barbour is transferred to another prison, the same access must be granted to Landis.

Elytte Barbour is currently housed at the county jail after previously being incarcerated at Columbia County Prison, Bloomsburg.

Miranda Barbour, who was initially jailed at Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury, remains incarcerated at SCI-Muncy, but will be allowed to confer with Greco at Northumberland County Prison on occasion when she has legal proceedings coming up at the courthouse.

Saylor also issued an order to conduct a hearing at 1:15 p.m. April 30 to discuss a motion filed by Best to hire an investigator.

A hearing will be held 9:15 a.m. April 1 on a motion filed by Greco to compel discovery evidence from the district attorney's office in the murder case, which has drawn international attention.

Saylor previously granted permission to the commonwealth to preserve hard drives from LaFerrara's computer and his mother's computer, both seized by police upon the execution of a search warrant. Saylor said preserving the hard drives will allow defense attorneys or an expert of their choosing to examine them in the future.