Prosecution, defense continue jury selection for Rebert’s trial

BROOKVILLE —Jury selection for the double murder trial of Steven P. Rebert continued at the Jefferson County Courthouse Tuesday morning.

That morning, a few of the potential jurors interviewed by the prosecution and the defense had been called back from the night before, when proceedings in the selection wrapped up around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The day before, the first pool of jurors was asked if any one of them felt as if they could not take part on the jury. According to WJAC-TV, about 20 people stepped forward.

From there, the interviews began Monday — with five jurors chosen — and continued Tuesday.

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.

Interviews with potential jurors — which were held in the small courtroom — included questions about where the potential juror lives, for how long, occupation and other general inquiries.

Questions from District Attorney Jeff Burkett included what potential jurors had heard about the Shugar case.

Judge John Foradora, who has been presiding over jury selection and will preside over Rebert’s trial, also asked potential jurors if they were active on social networking sites — such as Facebook and Twitter — and if so, if the court could “friend” them on Facebook to monitor their status during the trial, if that juror was chosen to serve on the jury.

Public Defender John Ingros, who is defending Rebert with Jacqueline “Sis” Mizerock and Michael Marshall, asked jury candidates if they had opinions one way or another about district attorneys or public defenders; if a person who is

a law enforcement official has more credibility because he or she holds that job; and opinions, if any, about those who work in mental health.

From there, Marshall then explained that the trial would possibly have two parts: The first, during which jurors will determine Rebert’s guilt or innocence on the charge of first-degree murder; and the second, a penalty phase during which the jury would decide upon a punishment — life in prison without the possibility or parole, or the death penalty — held only if the jury finds Rebert guilty of first-degree murder.
Part of the penalty phase includes the jury evaluating aggravating circumstances and mitigating circumstances.

Aggravating circumstances are those that would support a death sentence, while mitigating circumstances — such as alcoholism, mental illness, abuse — would support a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

By 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, three jurors had been struck, and interviews were scheduled to continue throughout the day.

Last week, Foradora said he would begin the trial the day after the jury is seated.