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Jury Finds Husband Guilty In Westmoreland Co. Strangling Trial

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The jury has handed down a verdict in the case of a Westmoreland County man accused of strangling his wife.

They have found David Stahl guilty of first-degree murder. The verdict came down around 8 p.m. after a few hours of deliberation.

Stahl is accused of strangling and killing his wife Rebecca, a teacher, after an argument at their South Greensburg home in 2012.

Before deliberations began Friday afternoon, the defense made its closing arguments.

Defense attorney Donna McClelland began her closing arguments by telling the 12-women jury, "You don't have to like David Stahl, you don't have to respect David Stahl… but you must give him a fair trial."

She also told the jury that Stahl did kill his wife, but the evidence shows he's guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

The defense also painted Rebecca as "a pistol," able to handle herself and capable of getting into a physical confrontation with her husband.

McClelland said emails between the two show a couple in love but human.

She wrapped up her summation saying Stahl attempted to defend himself, but he went too far.

When it was his turn, Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck attacked Stahl's self-defense story.

Peck once again showed the jury autopsy photos of the significant injuries to Rebecca's body.

Injuries that he said told the tale of a woman savagely beaten before her husband choked her to death with such force, he broke a bone in her neck.

Peck said David Stahl put his wife's body in a shed, then in an abandoned nursery.

Peck told the jury, "David Stahl showed no remorse, sadness or grief about his wife's death. Instead, he went to play pool and hit the bars."

Stahl did not testify during the trial, nor did the defense present any character witnesses.

Thursday's testimony centered on the audiotaped confession that suspect, Stahl, made to state police investigators.

Specifically, what happened in the moments leading up to Rebecca Stahl's strangulation death inside 803 Seton View on Feb. 18, 2012.

It started with David arriving home; authorities say he was admittedly intoxicated.

Taped Confession: "My wife had been smoking marijuana and she was bitter, and I didn't wanna deal with it."

What followed, according to the suspect's own words, was a physical confrontation throughout the house.

Taped Confession: "Basically, it was a cat and mouse chase – back and forth, back and forth."

The violence culminated with Rebecca Stahl's death.

Taped Confession: "I didn't do this intentionally. My hands were around her neck, trying to keep her away from me. I thought she just passed out."

The prosecution would rest later in the day, wrapping up by showing text messages between the couple.

Most of those messages centered on Rebecca Stahl's depression over her inability to have a child after her hysterectomy, and her wanting her husband to come home from the bar to be with her.

Jurors Hear Taped Confession In Westmoreland Co. Teacher's Murder (6/26/14)
Wecht: Wife Strangled With Such Force It Broke Bone In Her Neck (6/25/14)
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More Reports by Ross Guidotti

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