Attorney for double-homicide case could be costly for county

Providing appropriate due process for a suspect in a double homicide could mean high costs for the county, according to officials.

Jordan Rawls, 24, of 1029 Race St, is one of three suspects in the murder of Kristine Kibler, 50, and her son, Shane Wright, 25, in their home on Poplar Street in Newberry on Oct. 31.

On Thursday, the Lycoming County commissioners will vote to approve a service agreement with Ronald Travis, who will take the case as a conflict attorney. Because there are multiple defendants in the case, the county Public Defender’s Office will take one and the others must be assigned a private attorney, said Adrianne Stahl, court administrator.

Stahl said the contract amount is roughly $50,000; however, it is unclear what the total amount will be, especially if the district attorney decides to seek the death penalty, which he could do.

“It would be hard to imagine a death penalty case that didn’t reach six figures,” said county Solicitor J. David Smith.

Travis’s hourly rate is $125 and he is one of only a few attorneys in the county qualified to take a death-penalty case. Additionally, Stahl said if the death penalty were sought, by law, a second attorney would be added to the case, doubling the cost.

In other business, the commissioners considered the approval of a 2017 XL 4100 wheel excavator with accessories and the trade in of the county’s 2007 model. The total price, minus the $32,000 trade-in, will be $342,744, said Jason Yorks, director of the county Resource Management Services. Yorks said the vehicle is used to dig out frozen loads in containers and dig drainage ditches.

The commissioners will vote on these and other items during their 10 a.m. Thursday meeting.

The commissioners present Tuesday were Rick Mirabito, Jack McKernan and Tony Mussare.