A man on trial in the death of another man who had been left tied to a tree told investigators he believed the victim must have died of drugs he had taken, authorities said.
Keith Reber is charged in Schuylkill County with homicide in the May 2012 death of 26-year-old Bryan Smith.
Authorities allege that Reber, 49, and another man took Smith to a secluded wooded area and bound him to a tree, and Reber later returned and found him dead with his face in the dirt.
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.