On Wednesday at the Wayne County Courthouse a preliminary hearing for Robert Jufer, 71, of White Mills, took place and several witnesses testified.
-On Wednesday at the Wayne County Courthouse a preliminary hearing for Robert Jufer, 71, of White Mills, took place and several witnesses testified.
Jufer allegedly shot and killed his wife June on October 17, 2010. He was arrested on Feb. 6, 2013. On Feb. 7 he was arraigned and charged with one count of criminal homicide.
Richard Meszler, Jufer's neighbor, was the first to testify. He said he lives in a trailer home approximately 150 yards away from Jufer's residence. Jufer also owns the trailer. He said he and Jufer had a "good relationship" and considered him a friend.
Meszler relayed that from his couch he can see the Jufer home through the right window behind his couch.
"Around 8:30, 9 o'clock I saw him backing his jeep in the bottom driveway," said Meszler. "He walked to the back of the jeep then walked into the house."
He said that around 9:15, 9:30 a.m. Jufer knocked at his door. Meszler said he didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary.
"When I opened the door I saw blood on Bob's face," Meszler stated. "He said he was attacked and I asked what happened. I told him to come and sit down to see how bad he was hurt. I got a towel and cleaned him up. He had an abrasion on his forehead."
Meszler explained that Jufer said his phone didn't work so he couldn't call 9-1-1.
"I called them then handed the phone to Bob," he said.
He added he didn't hear any of the conversation since he went to Jufer's house.
"I brought a club with me," Meszler said. "I went to see if I could find anyone there. When I found no one I went back and saw Bob on my porch. He said his wife was sleeping and didn't ask me to check on her."
Meszler added Jufer "wasn't crying" and didn't seem "terribly upset." He said Jufer told him he "doesn't get emotional."
Following interrogations, Jufer went back to Meszler's residence and stayed "for three or four days." On the morning of October 18, Jufer told Meszler he "slept well."
"I said I couldn't believe what was happening and I didn't know what to do or if I'd have to move," Meszler stated. "He said if anything happened I would send the rent to his kids. I didn't ask anything further about the incident. Bob was the same as always-not emotional."
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Paul Semler was next to speak. He received the 9-1-1 phone call and was also the first responding officer at the scene.
"The call came in about a home invasion or assault at a residence," Semler said. "When I got to the residence I called out, saying who I was and nobody answered. I went in to look around and saw a weapon on the floor of the living room. I observed a person in one of the bedrooms. About the time I came back to the kitchen, I saw two individuals walking outside the residence, who were Richard Meszler and Bob Jufer. I separated them and spoke to them both."
Semler said Jufer told him that when he came home from Walmart after going shopping he was "attacked from behind," adding that a bag was "put over his head" and it "happened so fast."
After talking to both individuals Semler said he went back in the house and reported that it could be a homicide.
"There were no signs that she was alive," Semler stated. "The covers were pulled up close to her, about eye or ear level. I felt her cheek and she was cold. There was a large amount of blood around the back of her head on the pillow and sheets. The very top and back of her head were all that were sticking out. There was also a shotgun on the floor a few feet away."
Semler also said that you "can usually smell" gun residue when you're at the scene after a gun was recently shot. He said he "smelt nothing."
"The other bedroom looked like it was ransacked with clothes thrown around and it was the only room with a light on," he said.
Trooper Todd and Trooper Kowalchik later joined Semler at the scene.
PSP Dunomre Trooper James Hitchcock, part of the forensics unit, said that he arrived on scene and was told it was a "homicide and possible burglary."
About an hour after telling Semler a bag was put over Jufer's head, he told Hitchcock that "something was wrapped around his neck." Hitchcock said Jufer didn't mention anything about a bag.
"He said that he didn't know what was put around his neck," said Hitchcock. "He said that whatever it was, it sure worked fast."
Hitchcock photographed Jufer at PSP Honesdale barracks to document any injuries. There were six pictures taken. They were of his upper body, a closeup of the front of his throat, his forehead area, the small superficial cuts on his right temporal, his right palm and finally his left palm. These pictures were referred to as exhibit one.
Hitchcock explained that this was a way to be thorough. When asked why he called the cuts superficial, he said they "looked like scratches."
Afterward Hitchcock said he went to the residence to photograph the scene. Four photos, known as exhibit two, were taken of the victim's room. The shots were the entrance to the room that also showed the victim, Hitchcock looking into the room from the entrance, an eye level view from the doorway and closer view of the victim from the doorway.
The first photo from the entrance showed the shotgun directly inside the door on the floor, with the nuzzle facing the victim.
"It was obvious she had a gunshot wound to the back of the head," Hitchcock said. "Nothing in the room appeared to be disheveled."
Exhibit three had nine pictures that were taken of the kitchen area. In several photos blood droplets were found on a dowel and the floor and a box was tipped over, with the contents scattered as if they were knocked over. It would be later confirmed that it is "unknown" how the contents were knocked over.
"He didn't describe knocking anything over or getting hit with a dowel," Hitchcock said. "The blood looked like it dripped down. I didn't feel it was consistent."
Forensic Pathologist Gary Ross was notified of the case by the county coroner at the time and he also performed the autopsy of June Jufer on October 18. He said the cause was a "shotgun wound to the back of the head" and the manner was "homicide."
"She was lying in bed when she got the wound and she was lying on her right side, under the covers," Ross said. "It was perfectly consistent. Once she got the wound she died almost instantly. It was a back to front, left to right and slightly downward projectory. It's also consistent the assailant was standing in the doorway. The weapon was about four or five feet away, which was consistent with the door jam to the wound."
Ross was asked to look at the photos of Jufer that were taken to see if he could find any inconsistencies.
"I was first told a put was put over his head then he was choked with a rope until he passed out," he said. "I saw nothing to support that he was injured significantly. I would expect to see small abrasions on his neck is he was choked with rope to the point of unconsciousness. The pictures showed no significant injury."
Ross added that there's "no way" to determine the time of death. June was pronounced dead around 9:15 a.m.
After all the witnesses testified Jufer's attorney Bill Peters and District Attorney Janine Edwards had a chance to say closing remarks.
"There are too many inconsistencies and he could have been unemotional because he was in shock," said Peters.
"There are some inconsistencies but there are also a lot of lies," said Edwards. "He kept changing parts of his story. There is also the lack of injury that we would normally see by someone who allegedly was choked like that."
Peters' attempt at getting bail for his client was unsuccessful.
The case now moves to Common Pleas Court.