Hempfield man accused of killing wife wants admission stricken
A Hempfield man accused of killing his wife told investigators repeatedly that he wanted to talk to them, but only after he obtained an attorney, according to testimony Friday.
But during an interview at the Westmoreland County Prison, David Frank Stahl, 42, waived his right to an attorney and told police he and Rebecca Stahl, 37, argued early on the morning of Feb. 19, 2012, at their home before he allegedly choked her.
“He was willing to talk. He just wanted an attorney,” Trooper Robert Burford testified.
Defense attorneys are seeking to have Stahl's statement to police on Feb. 29, 2012, barred from use by prosecutors as evidence during trial.
Public Defender Matthew Schmizzi entered into evidence Stahl's request for counsel. It was received by the public defender's office on Feb. 27, 2012, administrative assistant Dawn Brooks testified.
Burford testified that Stahl indicated during the Feb. 29 interview that he did not have an attorney.
Judge Debra Pezze ordered both parties to file briefs on the matter before she makes a ruling.
David Stahl allegedly drank for several hours at a Whitney bar between Feb. 18 and 19, 2012. Police said he killed his wife sometime that weekend.
David Stahl told police he hid his wife's body at their Seton View Drive home and dumped it on Feb. 20, 2012, at a former nursery in Unity Township. The victim was on medical leave from her job as a sixth-grade math teacher at Derry Area Middle School after undergoing surgery.
David Stahl would later text a fake argument between their phones and burn items belonging to Rebecca Stahl, including her driver's license, according to police.
Rebecca Stahl's family reported her missing on Feb. 21, 2012. Police found her body three days later.
State police talked to David Stahl on Feb. 21 and 22 and took some photographs of his injuries and the home, Burford testified. During an interview at the state police station on Feb. 22, Stahl told troopers he wanted to stop the discussion and get an attorney.
“What he was telling us wasn't adding up,” Burford testified. “So we just started to question his answers ... and that's when he said he wanted to stop.”
Burford testified that he told Stahl repeatedly to contact the trooper if Stahl wanted to discuss his wife's disappearance.
After Rebecca Stahl's body was found and troopers located David Stahl along Roseytown Road in Hempfield, he was taken to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, where he spent the weekend. Troopers arrested David Stahl on homicide charges upon his release from the mental health unit on Feb. 27, 2012.
Two days later, Stahl asked a jail guard to contact Burford, according to testimony.
During that tape-recorded statement, Stahl said he wanted to talk because the troopers had been treating him well, according to testimony. On the tape, which was played during a preliminary hearing, Stahl admits to killing his wife.
Pezze declined to recuse herself from the case after defense attorneys requested her removal because the judge signed related search warrants.
“I'm routinely asked to rule on matters I previously decided,” she said. “I feel that I'm perfectly capable.”
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
- Re-enactor commits to pioneer lifestyle in Murrysville cabin
- School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive
- 40 years later, siblings of South Greensburg girl who disappeared still seek closure
- Jeannette trudges through blight
- Drones hover at top of holiday wish lists
- Family collecting donations for Salem man seriously injured in deer stand fall
- Western Pa. students bristle at changing menu choices
- Contractor eyes early finish to work on New Stanton interchange of Interstate 70
- Indiana County school employee allegedly showed 2 students an inappropriate photo
- $2,000 donated for abused puppies recovering at South Huntingdon shelter