Triple murder trial begins this week
Testimony in the triple murder trial of former Deposit resident Steven Colegrove is expected to begin Tuesday in Bradford County Court in Towanda, Pa.
Colegrove faces three counts of criminal homicide in the shooting deaths of his parents and a brother in their Tuscarora Township home on Aug. 8, 2007.
Prosecutors alleged Colegrove, who lived in Deposit at the time of the shootings, killed his father, Laceyville Fire Chief Joseph Colegrove, 60; his mother, Marlene Colegrove, 56, a Wyalusing School District bus driver; and a brother, Michael Colegrove, 35, who lived with his parents.
When the trial begins Tuesday, Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett will face off against Public Defender Helen Stolinas and Williamsport attorney William Miele.
County Judge Maureen Beirne will hear the case.
A week of jury selection ended Friday with 12 jurors and three alternates selected. One more alternate still must be chosen today.
If Steven Colegrove is found guilty, the district attorney plans to ask for the death penalty.
The Pennsylvania death penalty statute says if a defendant is found guilty of capital murder, a jury must vote for a death sentence if it finds at least one aggravating circumstance as outlined by the statute and no mitigating circumstances, or if the jury unanimously finds one or more aggravating circumstance that outweigh any mitigating circumstances.
Otherwise, the verdict must be life in prison.
The defendant has been held without bail in the Bradford County Jail since his arrest several days after the murders.
Each victim was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun in the bedrooms of their home on Kirk Road.
State police at Towanda, when they arrested Steven Colegrove about three days after the murders, described the crime as an "execution-style" homicide.
Colegrove has denied killing his parents and brother.
Much of the prosecution's case was laid out in a 22-page criminal complaint from troopers George Confer and James Kerrick and in Colegrove's preliminary hearing and other court appearances leading up to the trial.
They include arguments that:
* Steven Colegrove shot his father and brother as they slept and killed his mother as she tried to leave her bedroom. All three were shot in the head and face with 3-inch magnum cartridges from the shotgun, police said. Marlene Colegrove also was shot in the hand. Police theorize that she put her hand in front of her face or tried to grab the gun.
* During a search of the Colegrove home after the murders, police recovered a letter in a safe indicating when the parents died, the couple's other son Robert was to get only $1. That meant if the parents and Michael were dead, Steven would inherit all but $1 rom his mother's $100,000 insurance policy and any other family money and property.
* Investigators said the killer tried to make the Colegrove home look as if the killings were the result of a burglary gone bad.
* During the interrogation, police found injuries on Steven Colegrove's hands and right shoulder. The shoulder injury was consistent with having fired a shotgun, police said.
* When a doctor examined the shoulder injury, he said it was approximately 72 hours old, linking it to the time of the murders.
* Investigators determined that the shotgun used in the murders is owned by Robert Rynearson Sr., with whom Steven Colegrove lived.
* There were inconsistencies in what Colegrove told them during his interrogations.
Stolinas and Miele have not revealed much of their defense strategy.
In pre-trial motions argued in March, the defense team:
* Asked the court to suppress evidence in the case that they claim police found after Colegrove said he wanted legal representation.
* Asked the court to move the trial out of Bradford County or neighboring counties or to bring in an outside jury because the pre-trial publicity was "pervasive and sensational," preventing the defense from finding an impartial local jury.
Because this is a death penalty case, Stolinas said recently, in addition to preparing a defense for Colegrove, she and Miele also must be prepared for arguments during the sentencing portion of the trial should Colegrove be found guilty.http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20090118/NEWS01/901180372&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL