Friends and family members tearfully sat through several hours of graphic testimony at a a preliminary hearing of two Cochranton women accused of brutally murdering 20-year-old Youngstown area native Brandy Rosine Stevens. The hearing was held in front of District Magistrate Michael Rossi. Testimony from Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Eric Mallory indicated Stevens was probably buried alive, and finally choked to death on dirt.
Mallory said the accused killers, 20-year-old Ashley Barber and 18-year-old Jade Olmstead, of Cochranton, confessed to police they beat Stevens with fists and a shovel, smashed her head with a tree stump and a rock, and strangled her with a rope before burying her in approximately 22 inches of dirt in a makeshift fort in the woods behind Barber's Drake Hill Road residence May 17th, 2012.
Police testimony indicated Barber, when initially questioned, claimed her father, with whom she was living, "dealt the death blow," and was the driving force behind the killing, but later recanted the story and said he wasn't even home at the time.
The motive appears to be a homosexual love triangle. According to police testimony, Barber said the initial intent was to "scare her (Stevens) for an alleged past abusive relationship with Olmstead." According to testimony, all three women were homosexual.
The women are set to appear August 24th in Crawford County Court for a formal arraignment, when they will be read a list of charges of Criminal Homicide, Criminal Attempt at Homicide, and Tampering with Evidence. They remain jailed without bail and are bound over for the November term of Crawford County Court, however District Attorney Francis Schultz says their court date will probably be continued several times.
For more details and pictures, visit www.palive365.com.