BY STACI WILSON
After nearly two years, the trial of a Hallstead man accused of gunning down two men outside a Great Bend Twp. home is heading to trial.
Lloyd Thomas stands accused of killing Joshua Rogers, 30, Hallstead, and Gilberto Alvarez, 28, who had recently moved to the area to find work. He faces two counts of criminal homicide. If a jury finds him guilty, Thomas faces a sentence of life in prison without parole.
A jury – comprised of seven men and five women – was seated for the case on Monday.
President Judge Kenneth Seamans will preside over the trial; District Attorney Jason Legg is serving as prosecutor; and Thomas’ attorney is George Lepley.
Attorneys questioned the prospective jurors on their views of self-defense and the Castle Doctrine or “stand your ground” laws.
Legg spoke of the adage: “You can’t bring a knife to a fist fight.”
As the defense took its turn in questioning the jury pool, Lepley said he generally agreed with that but that it did not fit for his client
He told the jury he would present evidence that showed Rogers and Alvarez brought weapons to the Thomas residence; blocked the road’s only exit; and climbed to the property over a bank, not the road.
And although a large number of people in the jury pool said they had read or viewed some of the media coverage at the time of the shooting, none said that would impact their ability to serve on the jury.
In March 2012, Legg said he would not be seeking the death penalty in the case but said, “This is a very serious case – one residents of Susquehanna County rarely see.”
Alvarez was shot in the head and Rogers was shot in the abdomen and hand.
In interviews with police, Thomas said he shot the men in self-defense.
During a preliminary hearing in February 2012, investigators said Rogers and Alvarez arrived at property owned by Thomas’ family in Great Bend to find out who had shot at Rogers’ car.
They brought two of Alvarez’s weapons – a rifle found in the Mustang and a shotgun found in the woods after the incident. They parked the Mustang in the middle of Pine Ayre Road, blocking it to traffic, Trooper Mark Keyes said.
Once they passed through the woods and reached the home, each man headed to either the front or rear door of the home, though it was not clear which man went to which door, Trooper Keyes testified at last month’s hearing.
Alvarez’s body was found within about 20 feet of the front door, according to testimony by Trooper Keyes and Susquehanna County Coroner Anthony Conarton.
Between where Rogers’ body was found and the Thomas home, investigators found a loaded, 12-gauge shotgun with a shell in the chamber, though it had not been fired, Trooper Keyes said.
The pistol grip on the shotgun had a bullet hole through it, Trooper Keyes said, which led investigators to conclude that Rogers was holding it when he suffered the gunshot wound to his hand, Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg said after the hearing.
The shot to Rogers’ abdomen that killed him entered from behind and traveled through his body, Conarton testified.
The trial is set to get underway Monday, Jan. 13 and is expected to last for five days.