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Derry Area Middle School teacher's family sues bars, husband

| Thursday, June 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
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Rebecca Stahl
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David Stahl

The family of a Derry Area Middle School teacher on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against her husband and three local bars they contend served him alcohol before and after police said he killed his wife.

In the four-count wrongful death complaint, the parents of Rebecca Stahl contend the bars should have known that David Stahl was a violent drunk who attacked his wife while under the influence of alcohol.

“Defendant David Stahl is known throughout the community as a drunk, and it is well known that when intoxicated Mr. Stahl would physically assault and beat his wife,” according to the civil complaint.

Stahl, 43, is in jail awaiting trial on a charge of first-degree murder for the February 2012 death of his 37-year-old wife.

According to prosecutors, the couple argued before David Stahl went out drinking all afternoon and argued again once he returned home. He then left and drank at another bar before returning home to resume the fight.

Prosecutors contend David Stahl strangled his wife as she attacked him with a knife, according to details of his confession reported in a police affidavit.

Prosecutors believe Stahl kept his wife's body in a shed for about two days before dumping it on Feb. 20 in a field near Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

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

Jury selection for David Stahl's murder trial is slated to begin June 16, with testimony to open a week later.

Donna McClelland, Stahl's public defender, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

In the lawsuit, Rebecca Stahl's parents contend three bars — the Whitney Social Club in Unity, the Frontier Club in Latrobe and Kow Boy's Lounge in Whitney — were negligent when they served alcohol to David Stahl on the night of her murder.

Her family claimed each of the bars knew of David Stahl's reputation and past allegations of physical altercations with his wife.

According to the lawsuit, David Stahl was prosecuted in 2007 for attacking his wife and was convicted in 2008 of drunken driving.

Representatives for the bars did not respond to requests for comment.

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

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