Trial Starts for 16-Year-Old Murder

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MIDDLEBURG -- It has been almost 16 years since Donald Seebold was killed in Snyder County, and Monday, the trial started for the three men accused of killing him.

Both the prosecution and defense gave opening statements. Both sides paint a different picture of what happened near Middleburg on July 12, 1997.

The three men accused of killing a man at a party in 1997 walked into the Snyder County Courthouse for the start of their trial. Ryan Sprenkel is in the front; Christopher Aucker is in the middle, followed by Robert Reich. All three are charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy and perjury.

Investigators said the three men got into a fight with Donald Seebold, 21, at a party near Middleburg almost 16 years ago. The three allegedly beat Seebold to death, and left him on the side of Troxelville Road for flirting with Aucker's girlfriend.

Prosecutors called the case a conspiracy of silence, because they said witnesses originally told police nothing happened at the party. But in 2005, a witness came forward, accusing Sprenkel, Aucker and Reich.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave opening statements. Snyder County District Attorney Mike Piecuch told the jury, "Seebold flirted with the wrong girl. The fight went too far. Seebold was outnumbered and could not defend himself. "

Defense Attorney Michael Rudinski painted a different picture. He said, "That is not true. There was no fight at the party."

Defense attorneys for the three men said witnesses gave conflicting statements to police. Defense attorneys also said that another man, who was not charged, had the motive to kill Seebold because both were dating the same woman.

Defense attorneys said at least one of the defendants plans to testify at the trial in Middleburg. The trial is expected to last two weeks.