UPDATE: Miranda Barbour requests jury trial
SUNBURY – Accused killer Miranda Barbour pleaded not guilty in county court this morning and requested a jury trial in the homicide case against her. With advice from Chief Public Defender Edward Greco, she gave short answers of “yes” and “I do” to President Judge William H. Wiest’s routine statements and questions.
With her formal arraignment out of the way, the next step in the “thrill kill” case is for the defense to file pre-trial motions within 30 days.
Also Tuesday, Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini filed a notice of aggravating circumstances, which would permit a jury to impose the death penalty if the convict the Barbours of first-degree murder and find unanimously that the aggravating circumstances outweigh any mitigating circumstances raised by the defense.
Rosini also filed with the court a notice that he wants to merge the homicide trials for the husband-and-wife defendants.
Rosini cites torture and the perpetuation of another felony, robbery, as aggravating circumstances in seeking the death penalty for the Barbours, who are accused of stabbing and strangling Troy LaFerrara, 42, or Port Trevorton, on Nov. 11 in what has become known as a “thrill killing.”
Greco said the death penalty pursuit did not surprise him. He noted he could oppose the merger of the trials, but didn’t say whether he would do so. A hearing is likely on that issue.
Miranda Barbour was led into the county courthouse for her formal arraignment at about 8:40 this morning, but the proceeding was postponed until 10:45 a.m. President Judge William H. Wiest said he wanted to first process a number of cost-contempt hearings involving other defendants.
While she had pleaded not guilty prior to her preliminary hearing, Miranda Barbour needed to do the same at the county level because her charges had been bound to county court.
Elytte Barbour has waived his right to arraignment. His next legal proceeding is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Feb. 5, when a hearing will be held to decide if the state will be responsible for paying for a psychiatrist to determine if Elytte Barbour is competent to stand trial.
Sunbury police charged the Barbours with homicide and other crimes after LaFerrara’s body was found Nov. 12 in the backyard of a Catawissa Avenue home. They say the Barbours dumped his body there after killing him.
Miranda Barbour said LaFerrara, who was married, responded to her Craigslist ad offering companionship for money, and that they met the evening of Nov. 11 at the Susquehanna Valley Mall. She said they drove to Sunbury and when LaFerrara began to grope her and put his hand on her throat, she stabbed him.
When he was arrested three days later, however, Elytte Barbour told police the killing was planned because the two had always wanted to “kill someone together.” According to police, he said he hid in the back seat and, at his wife’s signal, wrapped a TV cable around LaFerrara’s neck from behind while she stabbed him. An autopsy revealed LaFerrara was stabbed approximately 20 times.