A homicide case that has been in Wayne County Court for nearly a year has finally come to a close after sentencing took place on Thursday morning.
-A homicide case that has been in Wayne County Court for nearly a year has finally come to a close after sentencing took place on Thursday morning.
Robert Jufer, 72, of White Mills was sentenced in the Wayne County Courthouse on Thursday by Judge Raymond Hamill. He was sentenced to “no less than 84 months and no more than 168 months.”
Jufer was arrested in February 2013 for murdering his wife, June, on Oct. 17, 2010.
For nearly three years Jufer denied killing his wife, claiming that someone robbed their house in White Mills, strangled him to the point of passing out, then shooting his wife with a shotgun.
The Jufers' main residence is in Hastings, New York.
Jufer said he returned home from the store on Oct. 17, 2010 and was attacked in his house, rendered unconscious and that when he regained consciousness he went to his neighbor’s home.
Responding troopers discovered the body of June Jufer, 68 deceased, in her bed.
An autopsy of June Jufer was performed on Oct. 18, 2010 and the cause of death was a shotgun wound to the head and manner of death was ruled homicide. A shotgun was located on the floor near the victim.
Subsequent interviews were conducted with Jufer in which he gave conflicting reports of the attack. Additionally, his lack of injury to his neck coupled with
physical evidence at the scene did not match the events as he reported them.
He went so far as to say he used the murder weapon earlier that morning to “look for a muskrat” near the residence and returned to the home where he placed it on the kitchen table before going to Wal-Mart.
He admitted that he did not look for his wife or arm himself with a weapon before fleeing the residence after the alleged attack.
A search of the Jufer residence revealed 108 rifles, shotguns and handguns in the home. The weapon located in June Jufer’s bedroom, which was the weapon that killed her, was owned by Robert Jufer.
Jufer was located at his other home in Hastings on the Hudson, Westchester County, New York, and the arrest warrant was served by Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Hastings on the Hudson law enforcement.
He was taken into custody without incident. He appeared before a Westchester County City Court judge for an extradition hearing before coming back to Pennsylvania.
A preliminary hearing took place in April 2013 where several witnesses testified including members of the Pennsylvania State Police Honesdale.
In August 2013 during a pre-trial hearing, the case faced scrutiny when the issue of Miranda Rights was brought up.
Jufer's attorneys, Bill Peters and Robert Buttner, filed a motion to exclude police interviews from the trial because he was “never read his Miranda Rights.”
Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards, representing the Commonwealth in this case, said that this kind of motion is to “squash information” the state has, saying that there “isn't enough” to take to a jury.
His defense is arguing that Jufer should have been read his Miranda rights, or at least be entitled to hear them, “no matter what,” even if he wasn't in custody.
They submitted a brief and amended the motion. Judge Raymond Hamill, who presided at the hearing, gave the Commonwealth 10 days to respond to the defense's submission and then the defense has five days after that to respond.
The Commonwealth had an expert who was going to testify by phone, but the defense objected to it because they felt that by not seeing the expert in person, they “couldn't tell the accuracy” of his statement.
On Oct. 18, 2013, James J. McNamara, a consultant for Behavioral Criminology International in Virginia, was in court to testify on the Jufer case. He works as a criminal investigative analyst, providing behavioral analysis of crimes, particularly violent crimes.
McNamara reviews investigations submitted by law enforcement agencies and provides expert witness testimony, behavioral analysis, crime scene assessment, information regarding unknown offender characteristics (profiles), recommended investigative strategies and major case management and developed interview and prosecutive strategies.
He also provides analyses of statements and threats, staging and signature behavior, and crime linkage.
Hamill later decided McNamara's testimony wouldn't be used during the trial, which was set to take place Oct. 28, 2013.
On Oct. 24, 2013, with a major turn of events, Jufer pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.
At that time Jufer was expected to face “up to 20 years in prison” for voluntary manslaughter, a felony 1, as well as tampering with evidence, a misdemeanor 2, punishable by “up to two years in prison.”
Jufer could have been fined $25,000 for voluntary manslaughter and a $5,000 for tampering with evidence.
Jufer's four grown children, as well as some spouses, were present in the courtroom during the sentencing.
“This is a difficult case,” stated Peters. “Mr. Jufer plead guilty to avoid life in prison, but his family is also here today. They have supported him from the beginning. They've already lost one parent and they don't want to lose another.”
Peters asked the court to give Jufer the “mid to lower end” of the standard guidelines for the sentence. He also asked the court to take into account Jufer's age.
“I don't believe you'll see him in court again if he's able to make parole,” Peters said. “He's had a lot of time to reflect on what happened. He's remorseful for being in this situation and putting his family through it. We are asking you to show leniency so he can serve his time and still have some of a life after. Prison doesn't serve his age well.”
Jufer was given a chance to speak. He said he was sorry about what happened and for putting his family through it..
“If I could live my life again I never would have done it,” he said.
“You lied to the police for over three years and you also lied to the probation officer,” Hamill. “Why would you lie to the probation officer?”
According to Edwards, when a person pleads guilty they are interviewed by the probation office, who prepare a pre-sentencing report.
“Generally people say they're sorry for what happened, take pity on me, things like that,” she said. “In Jufer's statement he said he was innocent again.”
“Did you kill your wife?” Hamill flat out asked Jufer.
“Yes I did,” he responded.
“Can I just add something?” Peters asked. “When a crime is committed against a family member, it's hard to admit to.”
Hamill stated he received multiple letters, mostly from the family, talking about Jufer in a good light.
“It's not uncommon of people to come through this courtroom who otherwise had an exemplary life,” he said. “The public doesn't realize how often that is.”
Hamill said Jufer has made it difficult to assess if he's remorseful, “even today when you're sitting in front of me.”
“You admitted you did it with a guilty plea and you admitted you did it in front of your family today,” Hamill said, “but for the better part of three years you did all you could to hide the fact that you killed your wife. I have no doubt that you killed her based on the evidence and prior court proceedings.
“You shot her in the back of the head with a shotgun while she lay asleep. You left a three centimeter hole in her head. She had no chance to defend herself and had no idea it was coming. After all that you staged a coverup.”
Hamill recapped some of the actions Jufer took to cover up the homicide. He added that in one statement Jufer said he and June had a fight the night before. Jufer accused her of continuing it the next day.
“You shot her when her back was turned to you,” he said. “You never came to a solution and with emotions of strong passion you killed her.
“At least you gave your family the truth today, which you owe them. Don't they have a right to know that?”
Jufer was sentenced 84 to 168 months, he was ordered to pay the cost of prosecution for both charges.
For the charge of count 2 voluntary manslaughter, Jufer was fined $5,000 and for the charge of count 3 tampering with evidence, he was fined $500.
He is credited for time served from Feb. 6, 2013 to Jan. 2.
“This is a victory for the Commonwealth,” said Edwards after the sentencing. “It became more of a victory when the judge asked Jufer in front of his family if he committed the crime.”
She said she has seen Jufer a number of times since the proceedings started and “never once saw remorse” from him.
“This case has been a big community interest since happened,” Edwards stated. “PSP worked diligently and investigated in a professional way. Once charges were filed, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced within 11 months.”
She said it moved quickly after Jufer was arrested in February 2013.
“I'm pleased with the outcome,” she said.