STROUDSBURG — A district judge determined that there is enough evidence to send an alleged mass killer to trial.
Prosecutors say they want the death penalty for Rockne Newell, the man accused to killing three people at a Ross Township supervisors meeting in August.
Security for the hearing Thursday at the courthouse in Stroudsburg was intense and so was the testimony in the courtroom.
That hearing for Newell began around 10 a.m. in the Monroe County Courthouse.
Newell is accused of shooting and killing three people this past summer at a Ross Township supervisors meeting.
Newell was led from the courthouse after a magistrate ordered him to stand trial for the shooting deaths of three people in August at a Ross Township supervisors meeting.
Newell and the nature of the crime were the main reasons why security at the courthouse in Stroudsburg was tight.
SWAT team members stood guard in front of the main entrance of the courthouse, a bomb-sniffing dog checked the perimeter of the building, and police and sheriff’s deputies patrolled inside and out.
“This is pretty high profile, emotions run pretty high. We want to make sure everybody’s protected,” said Guy Miller, Monroe County EMA
Inside the courthouse the emotions ran high during Newell’s preliminary hearing.
A magistrate decided there is enough evidence to send him to trial on charges including criminal homicide.
Police say Newell opened fire at the Ross Township municipal building during a supervisors meeting. Police say he was upset over a land dispute with the township. Three people were killed and several others injured.
Inside the courtroom, an audio recording of the events that night was played as evidence. The court first heard the voices of supervisors discussing agenda items and then gunfire, people moving chairs, screaming and then silence until one person shouts “he’s coming back” and more gunfire.
District Attorney David Christine had a difficult time talking about that piece of evidence.
“We’ll just say it was a trying day because what you heard in there was very emotional.”
Also played was the 911 recording from the first person who called in the shooting.
A recording of a phone call from Chestnuthill Township supervisor David Fleetwood was also played. He told police he had been shot in the stomach and back and to “please hurry.”
Fleetwood died from his injuries.
Linda Kozic, who was shot in the leg and whose husband was killed in the shooting, didn’t testify but was in court when the magistrate ordered Newell to stand trial.
“Mr. Newell will have a just trial and I’m sure it will be exactly what we hope for,” Kozic said.
The prosecution is seeking the death penalty for Rockne Newell.
Newell’s father was at the courthouse and spoke with reporters.