BROOKVILLE â€” As the penalty phase for Steven P. Rebert began Thursday â€” two days after he was found guilty of killing Wayne and Victoria Shugar, both 61, in their Coal Tipple Road residence in April 2010 â€” District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett reminded the jury that itâ€™s not all about whether it sends Rebert to prison for the rest of his life, or it sentences himÂ Â Â to death.
The phase during which the jury explored Rebertâ€™s innocence or guilt is over: The jury found him guilty of killing the Shugars, Burkett said, â€śand now, itâ€™s not just about Steven Rebert anymore.
â€śYou will hear testimony about the people Wayne and Vicky were: Loving, kind parents and grandparents,â€ť Burkett said.Â â€śYouâ€™ll find out what has been lost as a result of Steven Rebertâ€™s crime; what hasÂ happened to the Shugar family.
â€śSteven Rebert stands before you as a convicted first-degree murderer,â€ť Burkett said, noting the jury would hear from the Shugarsâ€™ family members, who will continue and forever wonder, â€śWhy?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s to aid you in the weighing process,â€ť weighing the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating circumstances, Burkett said. â€śContinue to be careful. Please know, at the conclusion, I will come to you, and I will ask you to impose the ultimate penalty, and I will argue that the circumstances are justified.â€ť
â€˘ First testifying for the Commonwealth was Lori Shugar, wife of the Shugarsâ€™ oldest son, Jeff.
She described her husband of almost 13 years as having a very strong work ethic, yet the murders of his parents and the aftermath have changed him.
â€śIâ€™ve seen him just crumble at the thought of this,â€ť she said.
The aftermath for their family has been fear. Following the homicides, â€śWe all slept in the same bedroom, to be together, to feel safe.â€ť
â€˘ Jeff Shugar then testified that he would spend time with his parents every other weekend for â€śour little special time.â€ť He continues to stop by their shop, Flowers & More, â€śbut itâ€™s hard to go in there.â€ť
â€śIt never made any sense,â€ť he said. â€śAfter all this, I still havenâ€™t found any understanding of why something like that would happen.â€ť
The Shugarsâ€™ sons Jeff and Jason continue to stop by their parentsâ€™ now-empty house, but not all the sons have been there since April 2010.
â€śBrian just spent his first night there, and Chad still hasnâ€™t been there,â€ť Jeff said.
â€˘ Brian Shugar, the coupleâ€™s second oldest son, described seeing his family receiving many friends and family for seven hours at his parentsâ€™ funeral.
â€śWhen I walked to the funeral home, there were two closed caskets, and all I had was a picture of my parents,â€ť he said.
Brian works as a paramedic in Pittsburgh, and had the sorrowful duty of telling the youngest son, Chad, also of Pittsburgh, that their parents had been murdered.
Despite his 20-year career as a paramedic and seeing blood and tragedy at calls, â€śWhen youâ€™re cleaning your parentsâ€™ blood, you donâ€™t ... No one should go through that. Ever.â€ť