A pathologist testifying in an eastern Pennsylvania murder trial says the fact that the victim was left tied to a tree for nearly a day was a factor in his death.
The Republican-Herald of Pottsville reports Dr. Neil Hoffman said Tuesday that being bound to the tree exacerbated Bryan Smith's condition before he died in South Manheim Township in May 2012. Keith Reber, 49, is charged with homicide in Schuylkill County.
State police allege Reber suspected Smith of stealing from his girlfriend. They say he took the 26-year-old man to the woods, brandished a gun, bound him to the tree and left him there for 20 hours. Authorities say Reber returned that night and found his body.
Reber's lawyer, Robert J. Kirwan II, challenged Hoffman on his statement that excited delirium, in addition to the methamphetamine and being tied to the tree, caused Smith's death.
Jurors on Monday heard two videotaped statements in which Reber alleged that the victim had stolen from his girlfriend and he only meant to teach the victim “a lesson,” WFMZ-TV reported.
In one exchange played for jurors, Reber told a state trooper that he never thought of calling an ambulance because the victim had taken drugs and was “real out of it.”
“He didn't die from any harm I caused him,” he said. “It must have been the dope.”
A clearly shaken Reber also told the trooper, “I did the guy a favor, keeping him from killing himself or somebody else.”
Prosecutors have said that the other man, who's also charged with homicide, will be a prosecution witness against Reber and his case will be concluded after Reber's trial.