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.