Defense: Miranda’s confession illegal

Barbour leaves Northumberland County Courthouse May 6:

SUNBURY – Attorneys want the confession of an alleged murderer thrown out.  That is why 19-year-old Miranda Barbour was in court Tuesday.  After six hours of testimony, there was no determination made, but Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor requested both the defense and prosecution submit briefs before the next pre-trial hearing in June.

Barbour, charged in the stabbing death of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara of Port Trevorton, was in court Tuesday and remained quiet for much of the time, answering only a few questions from her attorneys.

The defense’s position is that Barbour asked for an attorney several times during her interviews with police, but was never appointed one.  The prosecution says Barbour was never under arrest or charged when she asked for an attorney, so legally, she could not be appointed one for free.


The pre-trial motion focused on the two times Barbour came to the Selinsgrove State Police barracks.  On the evening of December 2, she was brought to police and, even though she was not in custody, Sunbury Police officer Travis Bremigen read her Miranda Rights, which include her right to an attorney.  Barbour left the station, only to come back in the early morning of December 3, telling Selinsgrove State Police Trooper Brent Bobb that she wanted to make a statement regarding the LaFerrara investigation.  Barbour added that she wanted to talk only with an attorney present.  Bobb informed her that unless she provided her own attorney, she could not be appointed one because there were no charges against her.

Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch took the stand to recall his time with Barbour.  He was asked by Bobb to come to the station and help explain to Barbour what her rights were.  On the stand Piecuch said, “She [Miranda] was fully aware of her circumstance; she couldn’t be appointed attorney because she wasn’t charged.  She knew she could leave anytime she liked.”

In court, a tape of Barbour’s interview with Piecuch and Bobb was played.  Barbour was heard saying, “I really want to tell you guys so badly what happened, but I can’t without a lawyer.  I don’t want to go home though.  I don’t want to be at home with my family hanging out and have the police come.  I know what they are going to find and I don’t want them to come to my home.”

Barbour’s defense questioned why she was read her Miranda Rights if she had not been charged with anything, saying that was a contradictory move.  It is heard on the taped interview Barbour requesting an attorney several times.  At one point, Bobb informed her he would need to seize her cell phone and obtain a search warrant for it.  Barbour appeared upset and yelled that she needed her cell phone.  Off camera, Barbour can be heard saying, “Don’t touch me. Stop! I didn’t do anything. I demand the right to an attorney.”

In the latter part of her interview, Barbour is shown calling her husband, 22-year-old Elytte Barbour advising him where she was and that she could not technically obtain an attorney.  After hanging up, Barbour asked to use the bathroom, and when she returned, she agreed to give a statement, without an attorney present.  Barbour then went into her story detailing November 11.

She says she met LaFerrara on Craigslist and had no prior knowledge of him.  She picked him up in the Susquehanna Valley Mall parking lot and the two drove to Sunbury.  She says he began groping and choking her and that is when pulled out a knife and stabbed him.  She says she blacked out during the act and after coming to, she dumped his body in Sunbury and drove to Walmart in Selinsgrove where she bought cleaning supplies.

LaFerrara’s wife was visibly upset in the courtroom while watching and listening to Barbour’s confession.

That confession contradicts a later confession by Barbour and a confession by her husband, where they say both were involved in the murder.  They confessed they were in the car together and Elytte Barbour strangled LaFerrara with a cable, while Miranda Barbour stabbed him.  Elytte was seen on Walmart surveillance video buying cleaning supplies after the murder.  Miranda was never seen getting out of the vehicle.  Both say they say they wanted to kill, as a thrill.  Following dumping LaFerrara’s body, the two say went out to eat in Harrisburg.

Judge Saylor said that after both sides submit briefs, he would decide whether Barbour’s confession can be suppressed.  The next hearing is set for June 3. (Sara Bartlett)





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