Jury selection begins Monday for Rebert trial

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The selection of 12 jurors and four alternates for the upcoming trial of Steven Patrick Rebert will begin at 9 a.m. Monday at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Rebert, formerly of Emporium, faces double homicide charges in the shooting deaths of Victoria Lynn Shugar and her husband, James Shugar — also known as Wayne Shugar — both 61, who were found dead April 12, 2010, in their Coal Tipple Road home, Brockway.

Judge John H. Foradora, who will preside over the case, said each day, until a jury is chosen, a panel of potential jurors will be asked general questions — basically as to whether they feel they can participate on the jury — in the large courtroom.

Those who remain from that general pool will then be interviewed by both the prosecution and the defense in the small courtroom.

“Once the jury is picked, we’ll start the trial the next day,” he said.
“There’s no definite date of when the trial will start,” said a spokesman in the office of District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett. “That’s the uncertainty of picking a jury.”

“It’s hard to predict how long this will take,” Foradora added.

Unlike the 2002 murder trial of Robert Rega, Foradora doesn’t expect the jury for the Rebert trial to be sequestered.

“In his case, there were issues of possible jury tampering and alleged threats,” Foradora said, referring to Rega’s trial.

Both the jury selection and the trial will be open to the public, but Sheriff Carl Gotwald Sr. noted that his deputies will step up security at the courthouse throughout the trial and jury selection.

Anyone entering the courthouse — regardless of whether he or she is attending the trial — must pass through the metal detector on the ground floor, Gotwald said.

Monday, the courthouse will be open at 7:30 a.m. for the jury pool, and there will be an average of six deputies in the courtroom during the jury selection and the trial.

Cameras and cell phones will be prohibited, Gotwald said, advising that those who enter the courthouse should leave their cell phones in their vehicles.

Rebert is being represented by public defenders John Ingros and Jacqueline Mizerock.

Burkett is seeking the death penalty for Rebert.