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Rebert’s defense seeks to suppress some evidence

September 2, 2011

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies Dean Smith (left) and Megan Sonnie escort Steven Patrick Rebert (center) from the Jefferson County Courthouse following an evidence suppression hearing Thursday. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BROOKVILLE — An evidence suppression hearing was held Thursday in the case of an Emporium man facing charges for the double murder of a Snyder Township couple in 2010.

Thursday, attorneys for defendant Steven Patrick Rebert filed several motions in the Court of Common Pleas to have Judge John H. Foradora suppress certain pieces of evidence that were introduced by District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett through cross examination of Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police Tpr. David Ray, the criminal investigation assessment officer.

Foradora said three motions were made by the Assistant Public Defender Jacqueline Mizerock and Public Defender John Ingros to suppress evidence that they thought was improperly gathered by state police during the investigation into the deaths of Victoria Lynn Shugar, and her husband, James Wayne Shugar, both 61, who were found dead April 12, 2010, in their Coal Tipple Road home, Brockway.

Mizerock said she questioned a warrant issued April 29, 2010, for Rebert’s home at 422 North Broad St., Emporium, to seize a 1987 Mercury Marquis. She said Rebert’s car was never mentioned in the search warrant.

Ray said investigators were searching for trace evidence in the warrant, which included Rebert’s apartment and the seats inside his car.

Mizerock also asked why another search warrant was issued May 5 to search the vehicle once again.

Ray said the reason for the second warrant to search Rebert’s car was because it had been transported to PSP barracks in Punxsutawney, in Jefferson County, where the examination took place — not Emporium, where the first search warrant was issued. He said the investigative team held daily meetings and decided to add the May 5, 2010, search warrant to be on the safe side.

Mizerock also inquired about two search warrants issued June 3, 2010 — one for Rebert’s home, the second one dealing with some specific valuable coins. But she said nowhere did the warrant allege that the coins belonged to the Shugars, or were missing from their home.

Ray said that Tpr. Matthew Powell, PSP computer crimes investigator, said there were searches regarding the value of certain coins found in the search history on Rebert’s computer.

Ingros asked if there were coins listed on the first June 3 search warrant that were not found, along with the 30-30 Winchester rifle and ammunition. Ray replied the first list of coins was generic, mostly due to space limitations.

Burkett said a search of Rebert’s computer found that some of the coins recovered from his apartment matched some of the coins on the Internet list.

Ingros asked Ray why the list didn’t include the years, to which Ray replied that he could not answer.

Some of the coins found at Rebert’s home were not on the original search warrant, Ray said, which is why they were added to the second warrant later in the day.

Burkett said 1935 Indian head nickels were observed during the first search, which is why a second warrant was drawn up to include them.

Mizerock asked why only two computers were confiscated from Rebert’s home, while two others were left behind.

Ray said troopers took only the two computers that were in working order, as the other two were in bad shape.

No one knew that the coins existed until the Shugars’ family members took an inventory of items in the home and produced a list of what was missing, Burkett said. Because the Shugars lived alone, it is difficult to determine what was taken, he said.

Ingros said there was no list of coins missing in the transcript of Rebert’s preliminary hearing, and it was produced after the fact.
Foradora scheduled a second suppression hearing for Oct. 11, when he would likely deliver his opinion on the defense’s suppression motions, as well as arguments regarding suppressing evidence from Rebert’s native New York state, where he developed as a suspect in two homicides in 2005 and 2007 — both males, one shot with a rifle, the other shot with a handgun.

Information developed during searches of Rebert’s Emporium home and was forwarded to the New York State Police, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and Oleans County Sheriff’s Office in New York.

Burkett is pursuing the death penalty for Rebert, who remains committed to the Jefferson County jail.

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