Share This Page

Stahl homicide trial scheduled to begin in June in Westmoreland County

| Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 11:32 p.m.

The trial of a Hempfield man charged with killing his wife and leaving her body in a field two years ago will begin in June.

The attorney for David Frank Stahl, 43, told a Westmoreland County judge on Friday that more time was needed so two additional experts can be hired to assist the defense.

Stahl's trial on a charge of first-degree murder and related offenses was scheduled to begin next month.

He is charged with killing his wife, 37-year-old Rebecca Stahl, a teacher at Derry Area Middle School, in February 2012.

Defense attorney Donna McClelland on Friday declined to reveal what information she wants to discover by hiring the unnamed experts.

“At this time I am not comfortable discussing that,” McClelland said.

Judge Rita Hathaway ordered that Stahl return to court on April 22 when the reports from the defense experts must be turned over to the prosecution.

District Attorney John Peck objected to the trial delay.

“The commonwealth has been waiting almost two years since this occurred. It's been two years and nothing has been done. We object to the fact it is going to be postponed again,” Peck said.

Rebecca Stahl's body was found on Feb. 24, 2012, wrapped in plastic and blankets in a shrubbery patch, about 25 feet from a road near Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

Family members had reported to police that she had gone missing four days earlier.

Police contend that David Stahl killed his wife during the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19. Police allege that after the couple argued, David Stahl went out drinking. They argued again via text messages and a third time after he returned home.

In December, Judge Debra Pezze denied a defense request to bar from evidence a confession Stahl gave to police after his wife's body was discovered in Unity Township.

Stahl told police that he returned home to find his wife smoking marijuana. They argued, and he strangled his wife as she attacked him with a knife, according to testimony about the confession given last year during a hearing.

He allegedly kept his wife's body in a shed before dumping it on Feb. 20.

Police said Stahl put his muddy clothing and boots in a plastic bag and placed it in a basement freezer at their home. Police seized that bag as evidence, along with the charred remains of Rebecca Stahl's workplace identification card and driver's license, which had been burned.

Investigators used arborvitae leaves found in the bag to track down the body.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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.