Trial begins in double homicide
BY STACI WILSON
The trial of a man accused of gunning down two men outside his Great Bend Twp. home nearly two years ago began Monday in Susquehanna County Court.
Lloyd Thomas, 47, of Hallstead, faces two counts of criminal homicide stemming from the Feb. 11, 2012 shooting deaths of Joshua Rogers, 30, and Gilberto Alvarez, 28.
In opening arguments, District Attorney Jason Legg laid out a timeline of events from the day – focusing on the time when Rogers’ vehicle, a recently painted Ford Mustang, was hit with a bullet.
Legg told the jury the men returned to the vicinity where the shot was fire, less than a half mile from Rogers’ home, where Lloyd Thomas was staying at his father’s home and business – a gun shop – and firing shots from the home’s back deck. “That’s where this case begins,” Legg said.
The district attorney provided a thumbnail version of witness and expert testimony the jury would hear during the state’s case.
The timeframe from the bullet allegedly striking the car to the shooting deaths is about 30 minutes.
“It’s a short window where these boys end up dead,” Legg said.
Defense attorney George Lepley told the jury the prosecution’s expert witness rendered his opinion on the case before visiting the scene.
He also focused on the Mustang – parked blocking vehicles from entering or exiting Pine Ayre Drive – the road to the Thomas’ home. He said that Rogers and Alvarez made no attempt to drive or walk up the road but chose to climb a steep bank leading through a wooded area to the Thomas’ property.
On the stand Monday morning, the jury heard from several Pine Ayre Rd. residents.
Their testimony provided a timeline of events – including hearing shots fired in the area before noon; and witnessing the arrival of Rogers and Alvarez at the scene.
Rogers’ live-in girlfriend, Lena Clark, also took the stand. She said the two men arrived at their home at about 12:20 p.m.
Clark said Rogers’ told her someone had shot his car and that he was going to see who had done it. He told her, she told the jury, that the shots had come from the vicinity of the Hallstead Rod & Gun Club – located near Pine Ayre Rd.
Clark also told the court that Rogers had served in the military and suffered from PTSD. After an episode in December 2011, Clark had a protection from abuse order served on Rogers who then sought treatment.
Law enforcement personnel took the stand late Monday afternoon offering up testimony to their roles in the investigation.
Cpl. Norman Strauss III detailed the initial police response at the crime scene.
Early in the investigation, police had only located Rogers’ body near the road; Alvarez’s body was later discovered in the front yard of the Thomas’ home as residents of the road were evacuated away from the scene.
Thomas was taken into custody on the road after he fled up the hill to a cabin on the property with two dogs. At the time he was located, he was carrying two guns.
The trial is set to continue Tuesday and is expected to last the week.
President Judge Kenneth Seamans is presiding over the case.