2013-03-23 / Front Page

Court date set for church killer

Preliminary hearing set, but not guaranteed


Greg Eldred shot and killed his exwife while she played organ in a community church, while a horrifified, mostly elderly congregation looked on. Greg Eldred shot and killed his exwife while she played organ in a community church, while a horrifified, mostly elderly congregation looked on. Wheels of justice often grind slowly in major criminal cases, so the scheduling of a preliminary hearing for schoolteacher-turnedkiller Greg Eldred is just another step in a long process.

As it now stands, Eldred is slated to be escorted next door, from his Potter County Jail cell to the offifice of District Judge Annette Easton, for a hearing at 3:30 pm Wednesday, April 3.

However, there is no guarantee the proceeding will be held. It could be waived, or postponed for a third time, or cancelled altogether if a plea arrangement is in the works. If there is a hearing, Judge Easton will be called upon to determine whether there is suffificient evidence against Eldred to order a trial in the Potter County Court of Common Pleas.

Eldred, 53, gunned down his ex-wife, Darlene Sitler, while she sat at the Coudersport First United Presbyterian Church organ on Dec. 2, 2012, in front of about 25 parishioners. He lingered outside the building after the initial assault and then forced his way back into the sanctuary and shot her again, allegedly telling witnesses that he wanted to “make sure she is dead.”

Eldred’s mental state at the time of the murder is evidently the crux of his defense, which is being handled by veteran attorney Bill Hebe of Tioga County.

A mental health assessment to determine his competence to stand trial and his condition at the time of the shooting has been completed, according to the prosecutor, District Attorney Andy Watson. The D.A. said resolving the mental health issues early could prevent appeals in the event of a conviction.

Watson added that he is “committed to aggres- sively pursuing these charges and ensuring Mr. Eldred is appropriately punished for his actions.”

Eldred is charged with fifirst-degree murder, which could carry with it the death penalty, and related counts.

Offificials have refused to comment on the particulars of an FBI raid at Eldred’s home along Dutch Hill Road, south of Coudersport, two days before the shooting. Among items confifiscated were computer hard drives that could reveal information about the defendant’s internet activity.

Return to top