A judge ruled Monday that prosecutors can pursue the death penalty in the trial of Miranda Barbour, a Pennsylvania woman charged along with her newlywed husband in the murder of a man they met through Craigslist.
In making his ruling, Northumberland County Judge Charles H. Saylor denied a defense motion to quash the death penalty if Barbour is found guilty of first-degree murder in the November slaying of Troy LaFerrara, WSOC TV reported.
LaFerrara, 42, was found dead in Port Trevorton on Nov. 12. Northumberland County Coroner Jim Kelley told authorities LeFerrara had been stabbed multiple times.
According to police, Miranda Barbour and her husband, Elytte Barbour, 22, killed LaFerrara together after he responded to a Craigslist ad they allegedly placed that offered companionship for money.
The Barbours, who were married on Oct. 22, were charged with murder in December, after cellphone records and other evidence allegedly connected them to LaFerrara. Authorities alleged the couple also stole money from the victim.
In April, Miranda Barbour's court-appointed defense attorney, Ed Greco, asked that the death penalty be taken off the table for his client. Greco, according to The Daily Item, argued there was not sufficient evidence in the case to support the prosecutor's assertion that the homicide was committed during a robbery. He also said there was not enough evidence to show the slaying was committed by means of torture. Both alleged acts were cited by the prosecution as aggravating circumstances. In Pennsylvania, at least two aggravating circumstances are required for a capital case.
In Monday's ruling, Saylor agreed with the prosecution that the case could be tried as a capital case. According to Pennlive.com, Saylor said LaFerrara's death was part of a "heinous plan, which involved [Miranda Barbour] having a knife near her and [Elytte Barbour] hiding the backseat with a black cord because, [according to her], the whole point was for us to do it together."
The judge also said the evidence in the case shows Miranda Barbour took LaFerrara's wallet, which he said is, "prima facie evidence of a robbery.”
Elytte Barbour, who was not included in Monday's hearing, also faces the death penalty.
In a February interview with The Daily Item, Miranda Barbour said she wanted to plead guilty to killing LaFerrara. She also claimed she is a serial killer, responsible for the killings of nearly two dozen people from Alaska to North Carolina. She allegedly said the murders were connected to her involvement in a satanic cult.
"I feel it is time to get all of this out. I don't care if people believe me. I just want to get it out," Barbour told the newspaper.
Authorities have been unable to substantiate Miranda Barbour's claims, NBC News reported.