SHICKSHINNY — A few hours after the bodies of Ronald “Barney” Evans and his son, Jeffrey, were found, the alleged gunman wrote an apology letter.
Murder suspect James Edward Roche’s letter was read by state police Cpl. Christopher King during the preliminary hearing for Roche, 31, and his girlfriend, Holly Ann Crawford, 39, before District Judge John Hasay on Thursday.
King testified that Roche wrote the apology letter to Evans’ family saying he was sorry and only wanted to fight Ronald Evans.
“I’m sorry for how it all turned out … if I can, I would turn back time,” Roche allegedly had written.
Ronald Evans, 73, and his 43-year-old son were found dead at their home on Sunset Lake Road in Hunlock Township on April 23. State police believe they were killed on April 21 based on statements from Roche and Crawford.
Investigators believe Roche was jealous of the elder Evans because he was once involved in a relationship with Crawford.
The preliminary hearing was delayed for nearly 70 minutes due to a medical appointment for Crawford. After two hours of testimony, Hasay forwarded an open count of criminal homicide against Roche and Crawford to Luzerne County Court.
Crawford’s attorneys, county public defenders Nicole Thompson Lermitte and Jonathan Blum, sought to have a second-degree murder charge dismissed because the killings did not occur during a felony, such as a robbery, and Crawford was not the primary actor.
“It’s going to take 12 people (jury) to decide whether she was involved,” Hasay said.
Roche is represented by attorney Paul Galante as a conflict lawyer.
First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce and assistant district attorneys Mamie Phillips and Dan Hollander are prosecuting.
State police Cpl. Charles Molecavage testified he received a phone call from Crawford’s mother, Moya Linde, who claimed Crawford and Roche had stolen her Nissan Versa and credit card and were planning to leave the area after killing the elder Evans. Molecavage said the call was received at 12:40 p.m. on April 23.
Molecavage and another trooper responded to Evans’ residence and found Ronald Evans’ body on the deck and Jeffrey Evans’ body in a hallway.
Trooper Stephen Polishan testified that Roche and Crawford were arrested in woods behind Crawford’s house on Dobson Road, Ross Township, when they were spotted by a state police helicopter later that day.
After their arrest, Crawford and Roche told investigators in separate interviews that Roche became upset while watching a movie on April 21. A character in the movie reminded Roche of Ronald Evans. Roche stood up saying, “He needs to go,” referring to the elder Evans.
Crawford and Roche drove to Evans’ residence and Crawford lured the elder Evans to the door when Roche allegedly fired multiple rounds from a .22-caliber rifle.
Jeffrey Evans came out, yelled at Roche and ran back inside the residence while being chased by Roche.
Roche allegedly told King that he believed Jeffrey Evans was carrying a firearm when he fired multiple rounds from the rifle.
Autopsies showed Ronald Evans was shot four times in the torso and Jeffrey Evans was shot five times in the back.