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Former in-laws seek $78K in restitution from Hempfield man

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Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:39 p.m.
 

The family of a woman murdered by her husband in February 2012 wants him to pay $78,000 in restitution.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck on Thursday filed a motion to modify the sentence of life imprisonment imposed on David Stahl, 44, of Hempfield.

Stahl was ordered by Judge Rita Hathaway on Thursday to pay $10,000 to state police for forensic services.

Prosecutors did not have the opportunity to request that the judge order Stahl to pay restitution before he was sentenced.

Hathaway imposed the sentence on the night of June 27, immediately after a jury convicted Stahl of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of Rebecca Anderson Stahl, 37.

An all-female jury convicted Stahl of killing his wife, a Derry Area School District math teacher, on the night of Feb. 19, 2012, according to testimony in the five-day trial.

Rebecca Stahl's body was found five days later, dumped in a Unity field near Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

After her family reported her missing, David Stahl claimed to know nothing of her whereabouts, police officers testified.

Expenses listed in a document attached to Peck's motion include funeral and burial expenses totaling nearly $27,000 and legal fees related to the administration of the victim's estate of almost $35,000.

“The Commonwealth respectfully requests that the Defendant be ordered to pay as restitution the expenses set forth in the attached restitution statement submitted by the victim's family,” Peck wrote.

Her family is seeking restitution for expenses related to their attendance at the trial and upkeep of the victim's home and vehicle.

Stahl and his wife had exchanged a series of angry texts over him drinking at a bar before he came home and they got into a violent argument. Stahl, who had abused his wife for years, physically overwhelmed her and then strangled her for at least 30 seconds, crushing her windpipe, according to trial testimony.

Prosecutors said Stahl attempted to cover up the crime when he burned his wife's belongings and then dumped her body.

In a basement freezer in the couple's home, police officers testified, they found the victim's partially burned identification cards, some of her other personal effects, muddy boots and bits of shrubbery, similar to that found in the field where the body had been discarded, according to testimony.

The defense argued that Stahl did not intend to kill his wife.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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