SUNBURY - A mitigation expert for the defense has been appointed by the court for accused murderer Elytte Barbour, and a hearing will be held next month involving a request to hire a private investigator.

Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor issued an order Thursday to conduct a hearing at 1:15 p.m. April 30 to discuss a motion filed by Barbour's attorney James Best of Sunbury to hire an investigator.

In the same order, Saylor granted Best's request to hire Jean M. Landis of Bethlehem as a mitigation expert to assist the attorney in preparing a mitigation defense in the event Barbour'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.

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

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

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

LaFerrara was found stabbed to death in a backyard in Sunbury Nov. 11.

Miranda Barbour, 19, and her 22-year-old husband, Elytte Barbour, are charged with homicide in the Port Trevorton man's death.

Miranda Barbour remains imprisoned at SCI-Muncy.