Man convicted of 1st-degree murder in slaying in motel

AP News
|
Posted: Jan 31, 2017 3:15 PM

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A man accused of tying and killing a good Samaritan who rented a Pennsylvania motel room for him, then videotaping the body and saying "I do what I want," was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder.

Jurors in Northampton County deliberated for 1½ hours Tuesday before convicting 26-year-old Jeffrey Knoble on the charge but acquitting him of robbery in the March 2015 death of Andrew "Beep" White.

The same panel will now hear evidence beginning Wednesday on whether Knoble should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jurors, who also convicted Knoble of a firearms crime, rejected Knoble's defense that he "snapped" after the other man sexually assaulted him.

First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck said he would seek capital punishment, saying Knoble's own words, captured on one of two videos the defendant recorded over White's body, show his callousness.

"He's laughing and announcing to the world, 'I do what I want,'" Houck said. "He's taking a selfie. ... He's like the director in his own little movie."

Defense attorney Gavin Holihan told jurors Knoble acted in the "heat of passion" but was not intending to kill after he awoke from a four-day meth bender to find the other man naked, touching him and kissing his neck. He said his client reacted "horribly" due to drugs, alcohol and "fear of being labeled a homosexual," which for a gang member would be a sign of weakness.

Knoble testified that he "just snapped" and felt like he was on "autopilot" as he put a pillow over the victim's head and shot him in the head.

Houck said there was no evidence of any such assault, saying Knoble "executed him for the crime of being kind and generous." He said the post-murder videos were intended to build the defendant's reputation as a "tough guy."

Knoble, who has disrupted past proceedings, was removed from the courtroom for outbursts during the prosecutor's closing argument and before the judge's instructions to the jury.