Accused Killer Testifies At Trial

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POTTSVILLE -- A man accused of tying another man to a tree and causing his death, took the witness stand in his homicide trial in Schuylkill County.

Keith Reber of Schuylkill Haven is on trial for the 2012 death of Bryan Smith of Orwigsburg.

Prosecutors in Schuylkill County say Reber and another man held Smith at gunpoint then tied him to a tree in May of 2012, near Reber's home, a short distance from Schuylkill Haven.

On Wednesday, Reber testified in his own defense, and told the court a different story.

When Reber finished telling a jury his side of the story, he was asked, "Do you feel any better you got that off your chest?"
"Yes, sir."

"The jury needs to hear from my client. They need to hear from him exactly what happened," said defense attorney Robert Kirwan. "They would think 'if somebody broke into my house and I knew the guy, would I tie him to a tree to teach him a lesson?'"

Reber testified that Bryan Smith ransacked Reber's girlfriend's home.  He gave Smith a choice: Reber would report him to police, or he could be punished and get tied to a tree. Reber said the victim chose the tree. The defense admits that was unusual.

Prosecutors call it bizarre.

"Without commenting too much on the evidence, I was not impressed with the excuse of his actions," said attorney Michael O'Pake.

Reber said he went back several times to give Smith water, but at the last visit he found Smith dead.

Prosecutors say smith ingested a toxic amount of methamphetamine and that, coupled with the stress of being tied up, killed him.

The defense argues it was the drug and not being tied up that killed Bryan Smith.

The defense and prosecution will present closing arguments to the  jury, the judge will then talk to the jury about the law and then the jury will decide the fate of Keith Reber.