Double homicide case heads to trial

LLOYD THOMAS

LLOYD THOMAS

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.

  • Luckotheirish Tattoosandpierci

    this man need to be put to life he is not giting off on it I tell u that right an I will be there

  • Luvey-ashley Jane Murphy

    if some one tryed to robb me they will be geting shot too

  • Luckotheirish Tattoosandpierci

    Try had there car shot at. So do not talk shit

  • April Albro

    Ashley first off they wasnt trying to rob the guy and ur negative comments are not needed the truth is the guy shot through the door of the car they was driving down the road in but then again this is susquehanna county and live on drama and other added bullshit stories added to what really happened

  • Luvey-ashley Jane Murphy

    for one april it wasnt me that said that for 2 april it was STEPHEN that wrote this not me

  • April Albro

    Well either way if people dont know the whole thing then iy shouldnt be commented on could have been one uof ur brothers this could have happened to innocent people just trying to get to the bottom of why there car got shot

  • Jaclyn Kelly

    All I know is if the guy got shot from behind, then clearly he was running away. Shot once, hit; scared him and guy is no longer a threat as he turns to run away. Shot twice, hit from back; murdered him. Pretty simple layout here. I don’t feel sorry for anyone involved. Two guys clearly had the intent to harm, but self defense is no longer the issue when you shoot someone from behind. People think just because they have guns they don’t need to call the police. Well, here are the circumstances of your big-boy decisions. Hope they all wrote letters to the loved ones they left behind, angry and torn.

  • Heather Bolles

    they were shot at while driving thier car and they wanted to know why.. should they have called the cops YES but did they deserve to be murdered NO.. it is not self defense when you shoot someone in the back.. justice needs to be served.

  • Jacob

    You also are an idiot. Did you know that there is a shooting range near by? Did you know that? no probably not cause you are a moron. 2 men had ill intent when they blocked his road and surrounded his house with weapons. The man was defending his property and life. Case closed.

  • Jacob

    This is what is wrong with our country and the damn liberals in it. This man shouldn’t even be going to trial. I am truly sorry for the 2 men that had to die. I did not know know them nor do I know the defendant. What I do know is that if 2 men came on my property sneaking around carrying weapons, then I would have no choice but to defend myself. There is no ask first, shoot later. Later may be too late. It’s shoot first ask questions later. If these men just wanted answers they should have walked/drove up the ROAD without GUNS. Instead they blocked the road so no one could get down and then sneaked through the woods to his house. Too many crazy people out there these days to just sit back and hope these 2 men didn’t kill him.

  • April Albro

    Your right heather but the people who have negative comments here have only seen what the media says and its not the complete truth and yes there is a shooting range there and thats where they went first but not a soul around and it was in fact a neighbor who told then thomas had been shooting all day and told them it sounded clise to the road all day and if he was in fact scared for his life why would be run to his fathers cabin 2 miles out in the woods instead of calling the cops himself? And what did they find at the cabin was more loaded fire arms and yes they took a gun but its has been completely clear they left it in the car and there is no exact proof that the gun found in the woods was gilberts or josh’s so lets talk about moron’s and stupid u speak of whats said from media a piece of shit paper that is clearly nothing but gossip just like the county

  • Jacob

    You miss the whole point and all that matters. 2 armed men with criminal backgrounds went on property they did not belong on, with ill intent. Case closed. And does anyone in Montrose speak proper english. Jeez people. Proof read before you post.

  • Darlene Denise Darrow

    I went to school with Lloyd and he is a nice guy for him to have done this he had to have been provoked to do this.

  • justine

    Also It is NOT a cabin it was his HOME…..OMG and so what if he was shooting all day IF you knew the area his HOME is no where near the freaking road!!!! And YES he had GUNS his father and Lloyd ran a GUN SHOP……WOW if you do not know what you are talking about or whom you are talking about just state facts……AND THEY ARE: 2 men with guns come to YOUR house and one at one door and one at another and who knows what they were saying what would you do sit and wait to see what happens…..HELL NO.

  • April Albro

    Maybe i am done talking to u cuz ur takingthe media shit and i know what i am talking about i been to court dates for this already and will be there monday and one guy was shot in the yard u idiot so how was he by a door guess ya wouldnt know anything about it other then hear say so end of story

  • April Albro

    Investigators have revealed what may have been the motivation behind a double homicide in Susquehanna County.
    Lloyd Thomas, 45, of Hallstead had a hearing Wednesday afternoon and a magistrate determined there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
    The case may also be the first test of a new state law regarding self-defense.
    On his way into his preliminary hearing, Thomas still maintained that killing Joshua Rogers and Gilberto Alvarez was in self-defense.
    Investigators explained what may have led to the deadly shooting.
    “The state police investigation revealed that the two gentlemen believed that their vehicle had been shot and they essentially went home and verified that there was some damage done to the vehicle and they went back to the property to try to find out who had shot their vehicle,” said Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg.
    On February 11, state police were called to Thomas’ father’s home on Pine Ayers Road near Hallstead after neighbors found Rogers’ body lying in the road. Troopers found Alvarez`s body in the front yard.
    In court, investigators said Thomas told them he was about to go outside when he saw a man there and “went into preservation mode.”
    “They`re armed, they sneak up through the woods to the house. They surround the house, actually one`s in the front of the house, one’s behind the house. The man`s inside, his dogs are going crazy, and then the shooting occurs. I don`t think we know, I don`t think anybody really knows, how that shooting happened,” said defense attorney George Lepley.
    Family and friends of the victims showed up at the hearing carrying pictures of the men they called heroes.
    Rogers’ aunt said he and Alvarez served in Afghanistan. She called their deaths senseless.
    “These boys came back from the war, not being harmed physically in any way. Who knows the horrors that they endured emotionally and they come back to their hometown to be murdered,” said Rogers’ aunt, Lynn Franklin.
    The magistrate decided there is enough evidence to send the case against Lloyd Thomas to trial.
    Attorneys on both sides said they will be arguing a new state law, the expanded Castle Doctrine.
    “Pennsylvania has recently expanded the ability to use lethal force beyond the confines of a home and this will be the first time that we’ll deal with the new parameters of that act,” added Legg.
    The district attorney said a decision has yet to be made on whether to seek the death penalty.
    Thomas remains locked up in the Susquehanna County jail.

  • April Albro

    Few answers, many questions in Great Bend Twp. double murder
    BY DENIS J. O’MALLEY (STAFF WRITER)
    Published: February 13, 2012
    GREAT BEND – Not long after noon Saturday, about 2 miles from the bend in the Susquehanna River from which the township takes its name, the sound of gunfire broke out on Pine Ayre Drive.

    When the shooting stopped, two unarmed men lay dead. Lloyd Richard Thomas, 45, of Hallstead, whom state police arrested on homicide charges, claimed he acted in self-defense.

    A Monday preliminary hearing in the case was continued to Feb. 22, but a review of the criminal affidavit offers a window into a strange case that left two dead and many unanswered question.

    The sound of gunfire was not unusual to residents near the Thomas property at 144 Pine Ayre Drive, a home owned by Hayden Thomas that his son, Lloyd, lived in and had relocated his gun shop to after his Lenox Township storefront burned down in 2010.

    Lloyd Thomas often went shooting at a range on the property, neighbors told state police investigators, but there was something different about the shots on Saturday, according to a criminal complaint.

    The two spurts sounded more like they had been fired from a pistol, for one thing, and they seemed to have come from closer to the home than the Thomas’ shooting area.

    Then they spotted Lloyd Thomas with a pistol in his hand, running past the home with his two dogs, according to the complaint.

    After neighbors saw Thomas on Saturday, state police received a report of a body in the road and, upon responding, found Joshua Rogers’ lifeless body laying feet from his black Ford Mustang stopped in the middle of the private road.

    The 30-year-old New Milford man’s hand and side had each been shot once, and an autopsy would later determine that the wounds had not been self-inflicted, according to the complaint.

    Soon after, troopers found the second body laying in the Thomas home’s front yard. Gilberto Alvarez, a 28-year-old Florida man who only recently moved to the area for work, lay with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head, according to the complaint.

    When troopers later found Thomas walking toward the house he still had a pistol in his hand, according to the complaint, as well as a rifle.

    His left hand had blood on it. He said he cut it on a knife in his pocket. As they drove to the Gibson barracks, Thomas told a trooper that he was “out of tears,” according to the complaint.

    At the barracks, Thomas agreed to give a statement and started to explain that he was at his father’s home when a man came to the door. He shot the man, according to the compliant. A trooper asked Thomas if he shot both men, and he said he had.

    He was “reacting to the situation,” Thomas explained, and the killings were done in self-defense.

    After the shootings, Thomas ran to a cabin on his father’s property – a place where he “spends a lot of time” and “feels safe” – and left the murder weapon there, according to the complaint. It was self-defense, Thomas claimed, though neither Alvarez nor Rogers had weapons.

    While Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg said he is “not aware of anything that would contradict” Thomas’ statement that both victims were unarmed, he added that state police continue to investigate the incident.

    “I think they’re still trying to figure out what happened,” Legg said. “I don’t know if at this point the state police have determined that the defendant was accurate or not.”

    While he had not yet reviewed the criminal histories of either Alvarez or Rogers, Legg said both men were Army veterans. He did not know when Alvarez relocated to the area, though he said he worked at a Pump and Pantry gas station. He could not say which one.

    Legg declined to comment on what brought the two veterans to Pine Ayre Drive in Rogers’ black Mustang that afternoon.

    “They’re trying to basically tie up the loose ends on this and make sense of what happened,” he said.

    While Rogers was found near his car in the road and Alvarez was found shot in the head closer to the house, Legg said he did not know whether Thomas had chased Rogers down.

    Legg also could not say from which direction Rogers was shot, as he had not seen an autopsy report.

    “Obviously, I wasn’t there, and the two folks who could give us an idea can’t talk to us, so this is always the difficulty in these types of cases,” Legg said.

    Thomas remains at Susquehanna County Prison without bail.

    Staci Wilson, staff writer, contributed to this report…..read this one he did go to his fathers cabin and he was also found with weapons on him running down the road and found with drugs on him

  • a concern citizen

    No one was shot from behind – you have your facts wrong. Its truly scary how much miss information is exchanged and printed

  • a concern citizen

    It is unfortunate that a person is tried in the media and how so much misinformation is put out there!

    If these gentleman thought their car was shot, they should call the police. Instead they drove home, changed into camofluage gear, got 2 loaded weapons and drove up and down the road searching for someone who had guns and what were they going to do when they found that nearly everyone on the street had guns? A neighbor directed them up to the gun shop and they blocked the road, did not go up the driveway like a normal visitor to the property, Instead, they run up through a very steep embankment and through the woods, using their military training to split and surround the house.

    If someone armed with a shotgun, dressed in camouflage sneaks onto your property to threaten your home, your family and your life… you have literally 15 seconds to determine what to do and if one raised the shotgun from under the porch and all you see is a shotgun, I say you have little choice in the matter. Not that anyone wants to talk ill of a victim, but they have a repeated pattern to jumped to conclusions and taking matters into their own hands. If you do a little digging, you’d find that Rodgers has 2 PFA’s against him for threatening his ex-wife and another for threatening his girlfriend and not able to legally have a weapon. Alvarez was arrested at least 17 times in Miami and most are aggravated assault charges. On two occasions, he gets into a disagreement, goes home and puts on a bullet proof vest and returns with shotgun and AR-15 assault rifle and threatens a cafeteria and another time a bar. The arresting officer Gracia had his life threaten and Alvarez made numerous statements that he had the ability to win a shootout with police…..

    We have the right to defend our property and our lives.

  • Capt_Bogart

    Well said!

  • Jaclyn Kelly

    He shot one man in the head and another twice. No shots fired by the two men..that is not self defense that is murder regardless of how you want to try to justify his actions. Point I was making is they ALL suffer the consequences of their decisions & actions.

  • a concern citizen

    You should check the legal definition of murder, you may sound more intelligent with involuntary manslaughter with what you suggest. Both were hit by a single bullet and the first was drawing his gun and got shot before he was able to shoot.

  • Jaclyn Kelly

    No it’s not “damn liberals” it’s people who think the rules don’t apply to them. I am confused in how you can take 15 seconds to decide to kill TWO people but you can’t take 15 seconds to decide to dial 911. All three of these men were wrong. Yes I agree that we have the right to defend our property and our lives; but we do not have the right to vigilante justice and adrenaline pumped decisions. I feel for their family and friends.

  • Jaclyn Kelly

    My apologies; involuntary manslaughter for the first guy…what about the second? Seems pretty voluntary at that point or was that one also pulling a weapon because I heard a weapon was found in the woods not by his body. It’s a legitimate question. Just trying to understand how to downplay death. Guess that makes me a damn liberal? A liberal with a .45 and a nice shot so I guess if it were my decision to defend and protect and my self defense claim falls through at least I have involuntary manslaughter to look forward too. His family and friends now suffer because of the decision he made in those 15 seconds and I feel bad for them. The other two thugs should have left well enough alone but now their families suffer as well. Sad world we live in these days. No one respects anyone.

  • Jacob

    Very well said. You would think that is obvious but these people are so blind to the truth. Just like liberals

  • Jacob

    Unless the police have a special batman symbol or know Superman i don’t think calling the cops would have helped when 2 men are standing outside your house with guns. Why don’t you put yourself in the situation. Try to envision what you would have done. My bet is you’d be dead,

  • Jacob

    no ones fault but the 2 dead guys who thought they could take matters in there own hands.

  • Jaclyn Kelly

    Just like a conservative – shoot first, make excuses later. And you know what I would try to call the police first, grab my weapon and barricade myself indoors and shoot if they enter. That’s logical and adult thinking because I can’t see me killing someone a decision I could make in 15 seconds. And you haven’t seen me shoot last I had done was 4 out of 5 clays…not too bad for a liberal. I am just not an idiot to confront two armed intruders.

  • FrackDaddy

    I guess I am confused? You complain about all the Media, and refer to this publication as gossip, But then use it as a reference? No wonder people think we are dumb hicks out here, Between you and the Manning’s, Hadlick’s and Sautner’s. But then I guess all you punctuation helps. Sounds like you are in with these Criminals.

  • FrackDaddy

    “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.”
    Most Front doors are near the front yard!

  • FrackDaddy

    The shot to Rogers’ abdomen that killed him entered from behind and traveled through his body, Conarton testified.
    Please explain the Physics of a bullet entering from behind, But NOT being shot in the back?

  • April Albro

    I think the concer citizen should get there facts straight no one pulled a gun or made and move to harm llyod thomas in anyeay and the first guy that was shot was unarmed

  • April Albro

    Concern

  • April Albro

    Wow. Really when trooper keyes first testified today and also today was the first day the coroner testfied maybe ya all should sit in and listen to the trial a lil bit before yall throw shit out there

  • majotay

    Stop with the “liberal / conservative” BS!

    By most anyone’s standards I would be considered ‘liberal’, but I completely agree with what Mr. Thomas did and would have done the same myself.

    Not everyone fits into your stupid cookie-cutter labeling system and not everyone has to make EVERY subject political.

    Also, if you bothered to notice, everyone defending the intruders was either their friend or family (aside from the misguided Jaclyn Kelly). Everyone else knows what the deal is: surround someone’s house with weapons, you may die. Pretty simple really.

  • PA RIDGE RUNNER

    You seem to want to tell us about how these “hero’s” were wronged but you don’t state the fact that they both had major offenses against them. Look up Alverez’s history on Floridas website and see what he has been convicted of. Rogers had a PFA against him. Thomas is a business owner and a tax paying,law abiding citizen. If it had gone the other way and they killed Thomas I’m sure you would be saying he deserved it. By the way even if their car was shot have you heard any evidence that proves Thomas shot the car? If not then shut up about that because if its not proved then it didn’t happen.

  • PA RIDGE RUNNER

    Put to life??? Really? Dumb Ass! Its put to death and I hope they don’t make you participate in a spelling bee to attend because if they do he will die of old age before you get to watch! Really surprised your a tattoo guy.

  • majotay

    So, they verified that Lloyd Thomas shot through their car door?

    No, they didn’t. IF their car was even shot at, and that hasn’t been verified yet, there’s no way that they could have known who did it.

    The cops should have been called. I’m sorry that your friends are dead, but it was their own poor decision-making that made it happen.

    When you and others try to make it sound as though arming yourself and surrounding someone’s house is a reasonable response to believing your car was shot, you just sound dense.

    You also said that ‘they weren’t trying to rob the guy’, but how would you know. Do you really think they would tell you or anyone if that were actually their intention. It would most likely be a good place to rob too, if you could get away with it, there’s probably lots of guns and money up there.

  • majotay

    If what Mr. Thomas did was within the law, and it certainly appears to be, then who gives a crap about what you think he should have done.

    And although you appear to be under the delusion that you know EXACTLY what you would do in such a situation, nothing could be further from the truth, so get off your high horse.

  • April Albro

    Well i am sure if that was the case they both would of have been armed and since the hallstead rod and gun club was close and neighbors of mr thomas lead them to the gun shop saying mr.thomas was shooting that day says who was shooting and if they was trying to rob the gun shop i dont believe they would have knocked on a neighbors door now do u

  • April Albro

    No one aint denied they have had a troubled past at all and now again that does not make them bad people 3/4 of susquehanna county have records and no if thomas was killed the way these boys was i would not b. Saying he deserved it cuz with out someone causing harm to a person the persons property there is no reason to kill

  • majotay

    I had not heard that they had talked to a neighbor verified by anyone. If they did, then I’m sure they didn’t intend to rob him.

    Regardless, their actions and choices thereafter brought about their demise.

  • FrackDaddy

    Its a quote from the article! Maybe you should learn to read, Before you go all crazy on us. I would love to hear whats going on but I have to work so you can get paid!

  • Set him free.

    you say there is no longer a threat there when he turned to go to the car but had you read a little further you would see there was another gun in the car which if you knew these men you would understand that Rogers would have just gotten the other gun and Killed Lloyd. He is alive today because of the choice he made that day. And let me tell ya, the photos they attached to this whole thing Only shows the men in their best light. It does not depict who they really were. They are just trying to go for the sympathy card with the whole ” these hero’s served for their country” crap. Well I served to and I live an honest life and do things but the law. If you are willing to take the law into your own hands then you damned well be ready for others to do the same. And you might not like the out come.

  • aaron

    I live in NY so I am completely new to this trial. I do have a couple questions if anyone knows the answers to or knows if the information has been reported yet. 1. I heard about a pistol with a hole in it and also one of the victoms having a hole in his hand. While I can put two and two together, im not sure when the man was shot in his hand was it while the two were in the car or was it was during the time when they approach the house? 2. Was Mr. Thomas alone at the time? to me there is a big difference if he were protecting not only his home but also his family.

  • FrackDaddy

    Aaron, I just know what I have read. So that’s all I know, But April seems to say its all a lie. But she also appears to have ties to the defendants.

  • aaron

    What source are you using to get your facts? I am just discovering this case for the first time. I would have to say if you are angry with how the media is representing this information why wouldn’t you post were the real facts are coming from.

  • Set him free.

    It wasn’t a pistol it was a shot gun it was found closer to the house. Mr Rogers was holding it when Thomas shot him. He had it drawn in firing position. Thomas shot him again while he was turning. it was after the car got shot when they came back to Thomas’ house. Mr. Thomas was alone he was watching the place for his dad while he was gone.

  • PA RIDGE RUNNER

    Maybe 3/4 of the people you associate with but certainly not 3/4′s of the county. By the way, Alvarez had arrests for armed robbery and threatening to kill. In my book that makes him a bad person, how bout you brainiac?