At a Wednesday morning press conference at City Hall, Lebanon city police Chief Bret Fisher and Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf gave further details on the Tuesday evening apprehension of Ivan Claudio Rosero, alleged to be the third shooter in a May 30 triple murder on the city’s northside.
The 27-year-old Rosero was arrested without incident in Philadelphia after being tracked down by Pennsylvania State Police and United States Marshals.
As with one of his co-defendants, Alex Torres-Santos, Hess Graf said she will seek the death penalty for Rosero.
Rosero remains in the Lebanon County Correctional Facility without bail.
Shot to death on May 30 outside 444 N. 5th Street were eight-year-old Jesus Perez, his brother, nine-year-old Sebastian Perez, and 19-year-old Joshua Lugo-Perez.
A neighbor next door, Luis Cancel, 33, was injured when struck by a stray round. He remained hospitalized on Wednesday.
“Six days after the tragedy that occurred on May 30,” Fisher announced, “the final suspect was taken into custody … as the result of an extensive investigation.”
Also arrested Tuesday in Lebanon was Tiffany Koziara, 34, who police and prosecutors say is Rosero’s girlfriend. She is charged with hindering the location and apprehension of Rosero.
DA gives details of latest arrests
Hess Graf said that the homicide, conspiracy, and firearms charges against Rosero were filed on Saturday, June 3, but sealed for 72 hours by court order to avoid alerting Rosero that law enforcement was on his trail.
“We were not sure where Claudio Rosero was,” Hess Graf explained. “We wanted to take him safely into custody, and there were concerns that he would flee, not only from Pennsylvania but potentially outside the country.”
As to the arrest of Koziara, Hess Graf said, “On Saturday [June 3], we also executed a search warrant at 34 Cumberland St. [Lebanon]. That address is that of Tiffany Koziara, girlfriend of Claudio Rosero.”
“We had information that [Rosero] had fled to [Koziara’s residence] after the shooting, and that he used a white BMW vehicle,” the DA added.
Earlier reports said a white vehicle was spotted at the scene of the shootings and that it might have been a getaway vehicle.
“Koziara was home, and she provided knowingly false information to law enforcement about where her boyfriend was, the last time she spoke to him, and when she last saw him,” Hess Graf said.
Hess Graf said Koziara remained in contact with Rosero after the homicides, “and they had a hotel room planned for Atlantic City this past weekend.”
Koziara remains in the Lebanon County Correctional Facility. Her bail was set by MDJ John Ditzler at $225,000.
DA discusses Torres-Santos’ bail and release on house arrest
One of the alleged killers, Alex Torres-Santos, was on house arrest at the time of the May 30 triple killings for two pending prosecutions involving shootings.
MDJ Aurelis Figueroa had initially set bail on each of the earlier cases at $100,000. At the defendant’s request, she reduced bail to $50,000 in each case, with the condition that Torres-Santos be on house arrest with an ankle monitor if he posted bail in both cases and was released from jail.
Torres-Santos eventually posted bail in each case through a bond agency, and court records show he was released on house arrest on March 30, two months before the triple murders.
In her initial press release after the May 30 murders, Hess Graf appeared to blame Figueroa for reducing each bail to $50,000, saying that “during his preliminary hearings on the prior offenses, the District Attorney’s Office requested bail remain the same on each case. Over objection, MDJ Aurelis Figueroa of Lebanon City lowered bail to $50,000.00.”
The DA, added at the same time, said, “the location monitor and minimal bail imposed by [Figueroa] thus served as no deterrent to a violent criminal willing to take a life.”
At the June 7 press conference, Hess Graf said she did not consider $50,000 bail in each of the earlier actions adequate, and objected to Figueroa, but her office never asked a judge of the Court of Common Pleas to restore or increase the bail amounts in the two months between Torres-Santos’ release from custody and the triple murders.
Pennsylvania law allows either the prosecution or defense in a criminal case to ask a court at any time to raise or lower bail.
Asked on Wednesday whether she thought that $50,000 bail in the two earlier cases was not high enough when it was set by MDJ Figueroa, given that the earlier charges involved shootings, Hess Graf responded, “I did.”
Hess Graf said on Wednesday morning that her office did not challenge the $50,000 bails because “we had nothing to show that there was an abuse of discretion and that patently [Figueroa] imposed an illegal bail or that [$50,000] is per se inappropriate.”
The DA added, “What you’re asking a judge to do if you appeal an MDJ’s decision is to say, ‘one judge vehemently disagrees with another, she abused her discretion, and here is a new amount.'”
Hess Graf has also said MDJ Figueroa failed to inform Torres-Santos of the conditions of his house arrest release on the earlier charges, as she was required by law to do.
According to Hess Graf, Torres-Santos was detained for a suspected probation violation sometime between his March 30 release and the day of the killings, but Pennsylvania law would have prevented her office from asking a judge to revoke the bails because of Figueroa’s failure.
Hess Graf also said she was unaware that Torres-Santos may have been detained by Probation Services until after the triple murders on May 30.
There is no indication in court records that Torres-Santos was detained on a suspected probation violation, but Hess Graf said Probation Services is not required to notify the DA in such circumstances.
Figueroa and county probation services director Audrey Fortna have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Court officially revokes bail on Torres-Santos’ earlier charges
Immediately after the triple killings, the District Attorney filed motions to officially revoke Torres-Santos’ $50,000 bail in the two earlier prosecutions. A hearing before President Judge John Tylwalk was held on June 7, with Torres-Santos appearing from the jail via video.
Torres-Santos’ attorney, Anthony Godshall, told Tylwalk he and his client did not oppose the revocation of the $50,000 bails but asked that they simply be put back at the original $100,000 in each case.
Tylwalk disagreed, revoked the original bails, and ordered Torres-Santos held without bail on the two earlier charges, finding him a flight risk and a threat to the safety of the community at large.
As a practical matter, Tylwalk’s order means that Torres-Santos can’t be released while all charges currently filed against him are pending, unless the court sets new bail at a later time.
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