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DA: The blood cries out for guilty verdict; jury hears it

January 25, 2012

Steven P. Rebert

BROOKVILLE — In his closing statement of Steven P. Rebert's double murder trial Tuesday, District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett invoked the voice of one of the victims, Wayne Shugar, and asked that the jury hear it, too.
"The blood of Wayne Shugar cries out in this courtroom," Burkett said, citing evidence that showed that four spots of Shugar's blood was found on the bottom of Rebert's work boots.
"Your DNA is the content of your person: It's responsible for your eye color, your personality, your height," he said.
"The embodiment of Wayne Shugar cries out from the four spots on Steven Rebert's boots: 'Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.' That's what that blood says," Burkett said.
After about two hours of deliberation Tuesday, the jury apparently heard the voice of Wayne Shugar and found Rebert, 46, formerly of Emporium, guilty of two counts each of criminal homicide and aggravated assault; burglary; robbery; and theft by unlawful taking in the deaths of Shugar and his wife, Victoria, April 10, 2010, in their Snyder Township home near Brockway.
A penalty phase to determine whether Rebert will spend life in prison or be shipped to death row will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday.
"The defense's argument was backed by zero evidence. The defense wants to focus on one piece of evidence, but you need to include all the evidence in light of each other. It's different if you take a look at the whole picture, and it's all pointing right at that man," said, Burkett, pointing at Rebert, who was seated at the defense table. "No one else."
Burkett said the prosecution cites Rebert as four men in one:
• The man scoping out the crime scene — "Everything you expect a killer to do, he did," Burkett said.
He said Rebert showed interest in the Shugars' Coal Tipple Road residence March 3, despite being 44 miles from home and having worked on fiber optic lines with Justin Modeas just a few weeks before.
"The final day (of work), Sunday, Feb. 14: You can picture Steven Rebert working with Justin Modeas, and he glances at the nice house, with the Flowers & More van parked in the driveway," Burkett said, referring to the Shugar's flower shop in Brockway.
"That's where Michelle (Bright) works," he said, referring to Vicky's former employee and a friend of Rebert. "This must be destiny."
March 3, Rebert had no reason to be on Coal Tipple Road, because as Modeas testified, invoices show that the fiber optic work had been completed.
He said Modeas also testified that when working with Rebert, Rebert did not drive. But when Rebert told Modeas that the police would probably want to talk to him about the work on Coal Tipple Road, he told him, "'Tell them I drove.'"
"So he told him to lie — another thing you would expect a killer to do, because he needed a legitimate reason to be there," Burkett said.
Bukett also said Rebert was "messing with police" in their questioning about Coal Tipple Road, going so far as to pretend he didn't know about the road — calling it "Coal Triple" — despite having worked along that road for a few weeks.
When speaking with police, he did not mention anything about the Shugars, the flower shop or Bright, but evidence and testimony showed that Rebert had visited Flowers & More on four occasions — one time to buy flowers from Vicky, only to then present them to Bright.
"He found a good reason not to talk about Michelle Bright," Burkett said. "It connected him to the victim."
• The man in the video — When asked specifically by police if he had been in Brockway the night of April 10, 2010, Rebert said no. When asked if he was positive about that, he said he was.
When describing the Sheetz video footage, however, Rebert shut down, saying thing like, "Lots of people have cars like mine," and, "I must have a twin."

Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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