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Susquehanna County Trial Tests New State Castle Doctrine

MONTROSE  — It’s a case that’s putting Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine to the test – a new law that gives someone the ability to use deadly force to protect themselves and their property.  The trial began Monday, one that the defense, prosecution and many involved have been anxiously waiting for.

Almost two years ago two lives were taken in Susquehanna County and now it’s up to a jury whether or not Lloyd Thomas of Hallstead was justified in the killings under a new state law.

Thomas kept quiet as he arrived at the Susquehanna County Courthouse.  When Thomas was asked to comment about the shootings he said, “I better not, I’m sorry.”

Thomas is charged with shooting and killing Gilberto Alvarez and Joshua Rogers and both soldiers who had served overseas.

Prosecutors began presenting their case to the jury while Thomas’ defense team plans to explain that it was all legal according to a new state law that allows the use of deadly force to protect yourself and your home.

“To my knowledge, it’s the first time that the castle doctrine would have been subject at the trial,” said defense attorney George Lepley.

Rogers’ longtime friend and roommate testified that the men were on the property only looking for whoever shot at their car earlier in the day while the two were running errands.

“They said they were going to find out who shot the car so the damages could be paid for,” said Randal Grover.

Many neighbors testified, including Victoria Moelder.  She was home when it all happened.

“I don’t know why they were there. It couldn’t have been for a good reason, but they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong way,” said Moelder.

Jurors are also learning more about Alvarez’s and Roger’s past – a troubled one at times.

“They have criminal records, protection from abuse orders against them, I mean I think that the jury will eventually conclude that my client acted reasonably,” said Lepley.

Many in Susquehanna County are anxious to see if indeed Thomas was justified to shoot first when he allegedly felt threatened on his own property.

“For everybody in Pennsylvania, we all need to be able to have the right to defend our property if we feel threatened,” said Moelder.

The prosecution plans to wrap up its case sometime Wednesday.  Defense attorneys won’t say whether or not Thomas will take the stand in his own defense later this week.

5 comments

  • Robert

    Why would anyone go to trail if someone invade your home and fear for your life, intruders have no rights once they break-in and DA should not setup for trail whether the home owner is guilty or not.

  • Bill

    It’s misleading to claim PA has a new Castle Doctrine law, Pennsylvania has always had a Castle Doctrine law. What our governor signed into law in June of 2011 was an expanded version that provides individuals with more defenses against criminal behavior that includes areas outside of the “castle”, inside a vehicle, work place, and also no duty to retreat (“stand your ground”) even when outside of the “castle” if confronted with a weapon. This case may only challenge where you can stand your ground. In my view, that is anywhere you can legally carry a weapon. For those of you who don’t know, you better get your CCW (concealed carry weapon) permit before the next state of emergency. Just when you might need to carry your weapon most, PA has a law that prevents the carrying of any firearm during states of emergency, concealed or in the open. The only legal way to carry a firearm at that time is to have a CCW.

  • Stephen Moleski

    I suspect Ms Kelley opposes the Castle Doctrine. The article includes a statement about the men’s military service. That is irrelevant to the event. Their criminal record on the other hand is relevant. The article is very sketchy. We are given no details about what may have happened other than it happened on the Thomas property and that the men involved allegedly had an unrelated motive in being there. Everything is left open ended either because no details are available or intentionally so that the reader is left to draw his own conclusions.

    • Paul

      yes they do leave out way to much in the article.like the fact that the first man to be shot,in the head, was not armed at all! even todays news report stated that both where armed. not true at all. They also leave out the fact that it was a gun shop and that it was owned by lloyds father not lloyd. he shot the first man for no reason at all. not one word was said. it was broad day light and the victim was in the yard. also not even looking in lloyds direction!! so, lloyd just steps out of the garage and shoots the victim through the temples. If lloyd is found not guilty of murder there will be so many people being shot just for walking up to someones door or just crossing another persons grass.the second victim was running away after his friend was killed. lloyd shot at him 14 times, hitting Mr. Rogers in the back. To my knowledge once a threat is removed, If there even was one in the first place that is.like someone running away. it is no longer self defense to kill them. it is then murder and may I also add cowardly to boot.channel 16 should get the facts and report them correctly or don’t be in the news business..

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