Motion: Knife in Barbour case obtained with invalid warrant
SUNBURY - Police confiscated the knife allegedly used to kill Troy LaFerrara using a search warrant that was invalid, and the knife should not be permitted as evidence in the case against Miranda Barbour, according to the woman's attorneys.
A motion to that effect was filed Thursday in Northumberland County Court in the homicide case that has attracted nationwide attention as the "Craigslist killing."
Northumberland County Chief Public Defender Edward Greco and Assistant Public Defender Paige Rosini said the search warrant that led to confiscation of the knife Dec. 9 was served at 101 N. Water St., Selinsgrove, but police had asked for a warrant for 101 N. Market St., about one block away.
"As a result of his invalid search warrant, the evidence of the knife must be suppressed as it was obtained in violation of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure," the motion says.
Greco said by phone Thursday he didn't know if the incorrect address used by Sunbury Police Officer Travis Bremigen on the warrant application was the officer's mistake or if it originated with Barbour's husband, Elytte, who is also charged with LaFerrara's Nov. 11 stabbing death, and told police where to find the knife.
Either way, the mistake renders the search warrant and any evidence obtained through it as invalid, according to the motion.
Arrest papers list the Barbours' address as 101 N. Water St.
Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini said he believes there is "sufficient cause to sustain the evidence" despite the address mix-up.
"We had consent from the homeowner to search the home, and the area where the knife was found is not a private area and not an area the Barbours lived in," he said.
The Barbours were reportedly living with others at the home, it has been previously reported.
Miranda, 19, and Elytte Barbour, 22, are charged with criminal homicide and related charges in the death of LaFerrara, 42, a married environmental engineer from Port Trevorton. His body was found near an alley in the backyard of a home along Catawissa Avenue, Sunbury, Nov. 12, with more than 20 stab wounds.
Police tracked Miranda Barbour through LaFerrara's cell phone. She told police she met LaFerrara through Craigslist and he agreed to pay her for companionship. They met the evening of Nov. 11 at the Susquehanna Valley Mall near Selinsgrove and drove to Sunbury. When LaFerrara began to grope and choke her, she stabbed him, Miranda told police Dec. 3, the day of her arrest.
When Elyette was arrested three days later, he said he was hiding in the back seat of his wife's car and, at her signal, began to choke LaFerrara from behind with a TV cable while she stabbed him.
No date for hearing
Miranda Barbour told police she discarded the knife she used in the stabbing in the Susquehanna River along Routes 11-15 south of Selinsgrove five days before her arrest, but her husband told police otherwise.
Bremigen filled out the warrant application and listed the Market Street address three times, Thursday's motion says. It says the officer took an oath before Snyder County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Hudock in obtaining the warrant that evidence to the homicide was "located at the particular premises."
On the application, typed into a box that asks for a specific description of the premises to be searched, is "101 North Market Street, Selinsgrove, PA 17870. Two story single white residence with the numbers 101 located on the front of the residence."
The inventory sheet notes the item taken was one "knife from attic" but does not indicate what address that it was found in.
Rosini said no date has been set for a hearing on the motion to suppress in Northumberland County Court.