North Huntingdon man serving life sentences seeks return of seized property
Mar. 30—A North Huntingdon man serving two life prison sentences for the 2021 murders of a Penn Township couple wants his belongings back.
The lawyer for Victor F. Steban asked a judge during a court hearing Thursday to order prosecutors to return dozens of items that were seized after Steban's arrest following a four-day crime spree. In addition to the fatal shootings of Jacob Erdeljac, 41, and his girlfriend, Mara Casale, 27, authorities said Steban shot into homes in Hempfield and Sewickley, set fire to his own home in North Huntingdon and stole a truck.
"None of the items is contraband, and his intention is to have his power of attorney sell them to pay his court costs," Assistant Public Defender Patrice DiPietro said.
Steban owes about $120,000 in court costs and restitution payments to his victims, according to court records.
In his court filing, Steban listed 54 items seized by police, including a 2002 Chevrolet truck he drove to the murder scene, along with other personal items found in the vehicle such as a propane grill, night vision goggles, camping equipment, sleeping bags, knives and pry bars.
Steban, 55, pleaded guilty last year to 32 counts in seven separate criminal cases and was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms and an additional 46 to 92 years behind bars.
Investigators suggested Steban's crime spree was motivated in part by an ongoing dispute he had with leaders of the Pagans motorcycle gang.
Assistant District Attorney Adam Barr said the seized items should be destroyed.
"It's not appropriate for him to profit from items he used in his crimes," Barr said.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Tim Krieger said he did not have jurisdiction to rule on Steban's request because it was filed nearly a year too late. The request for return of property should have been filed last June, 30 days after Steban was sentenced.
"This should be a civil matter," Krieger said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .