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Third day of Rebert trial examines video trail

January 19, 2012

Steven P. Rebert

BROOKVILLE — Jurors during the third day of the Steven P. Rebert's double-homicide trial learned how he left a video trail of surveillance of him stopping at Sheetz as he made his way to the home of Wayne and Vickie Shugar, Coal Tipple Road, Brockway.
Rebert, formerly of Emporium, faces double homicide charges in the shooting deaths of the Shugars, both 61, who were found dead April 12, 2010, in their home.
Testifying for District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett, Stephanie Lee Coral, a loss investigator for Sheetz, described how she assists police in Brockway, Emporium and St. Marys with investigations — including the Shugars' case — involving stores in those regions.
Burkett asked that five video CDs — all showing the correct time stamp — be entered into evidence from the Brockway, St. Marys and Emporium stores.
Rebert's attorney John Ingros asked how jurors could know the time and date stamps are accurate. Coral replied that time is synchronized through Sheetz.com from NASA and U.S. Navy servers, and all stores are synched with the central time server on the Internet.
Burkett's next witness, Tpr. Tim Wittman, a 20-year trooper and criminal investigator assigned to the Marienville PSP barracks, reviewed the surveillance footage from all three Sheetz stores to see if Rebert turned up in their videos either March 3 or April 10, 2010, which is believed to be the day the Shugars were killed in the basement of their home.
Wittman testified that he was able to observe Rebert arrive and leave at all three Sheetz stores — on both dates in question — in his 1987 Mercury Marquis.
The jury viewed the video surveillance following lunch, which corresponded with the following testimony:
• Wittman said March 3, 2010, Rebert's dark-colored vehicle was seen via the front lot camera at Sheetz in Brockway as he drove into the lot, as he was traveling southbound and as he made a left turn into the parking lot.
Wittman said the side door view showed Rebert entering the store, where his car was parked outside, at 7:43 a.m. March 3, as well as Rebert leaving the store at 7:50 a.m..
"The front door view shows Rebert walking through the store, and the clothes he was wearing match the description of the person whose car was parked on Coal Tipple Road March 3, 2010, and was later identified as his, after the plate was run by state police," Wittman said.
• Rebert was also identified in a video at Sheetz in Emporium — located near Rebert's 422 North Broad St. residence — April 10, 2010.
The video showed Rebert pumping gas into his car, then pulling onto Route 120.
Wittman said Rebert returned again at 6:59 p.m. to the Emporium Sheetz, then departed and turned onto Route 120 toward St. Marys.
• A dumpster camera view from Sheetz in St. Marys showed Rebert pulling in at 7:22 p.m. from Route 120, behind the store where the dumpster was located, he said.
That video showed Rebert wearing a shirt that bore logos on the front and the back as previously described, as well as the ball cap that was described, Wittman said, Rebert also purchased a drink in a cup, a snack and a lottery ticket, and he checked the air in his tires.
Wittman said at 7:26 p.m., Rebert got back in his vehicle and departed Sheetz at 7:28 p.m., turning right and driving toward Brockway.
• Rebert was next observed by surveillance video at 8:03 p.m. at Sheetz in Brockway, when he pulled up to the gas pumps, cleaned his windshield, entered the store and purchased a scratch-off lottery ticket. 
Wittman said he was still wearing the same T-shirt with a logo on the left front chest area and ball cap, he said.
Wittman said the front lot view camera showed Rebert's vehicle leaving the Sheetz lot and pulling onto Route 28 in Brockway and heading south toward Coal Tipple Road.
Burkett had no further questions for Wittman, and Ingros said he had no questions regarding the Sheetz video footage.
Burkett next called Cpl. Jeff S. Lee, a 19-year criminal investigator for Troop C.
Lee said he interviewed Michelle Bright, who worked for Vicky Shugar at Brockway business, Flowers & More, and who had been friends with Rebert when she had her own flower shop in Coudersport.
Lee testified that he interviewed Bright in DuBois, informing her that state police would possibly arrest Rebert for the Shugars' murders.
"She put her hands over her face and cried, 'Why would he do this? they were so nice,'" said Lee, who also identified Rebert in the courtroom at Burkett's request.
Lee said April 25, 2010, he and Tpr. David Ray traveled to Emporium to interview Rebert at his home. Lee said while porch knocking on the door, they heard a dog barking and man inside.
Lee identified himself to Rebert as an investigator with PSP and asked to speak with him. Rebert said he had to put the dog away and closed the door on the front porch, Lee said.
"We waited for four minutes, and suddenly, he came walking up between his house and the church next door and asked us if we wanted some parsnips," he said, adding that Rebert was fine with the troopers entering his home.
"I told him we were conducting an important investigation, and if he could help us out with some information," Lee said. "He wasn't too interested in what we were talking about."
Lee said he asked Rebert if he had heard of Coal Tipple Road, about which Rebert replied, "'Coal Triple? I don't think so.'" 
Lee told Rebert that his vehicle had been seen on Coal Tipple Road March 3, 2010, and he was seen walking along the road carrying a 30-30 rifle and two knives.
He said that Rebert told him he, while performing fiber optic installation in that area for a cable contractor, had a backpack that day and was carrying a gun to get into shape for hunting out West. Lee said Rebert described the gun as a good brush gun and the only one he owned.

Pick up a copy of the Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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