Testimony details fatal alleged tryst

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ELIZABETHVILLE - A man charged with shooting another man to death Dec. 7 after finding him with his wife in a trailer near Williamstown is headed to Dauphin County Court.

Roberto Souffront, 53, of 113 Autumn Drive, Apt. 15, Williamstown, is charged with murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, burglary, possessing instruments of crime and recklessly endangering another person.

After hearing about 1 1/2 hours of testimony from Souffront's wife and two state police troopers, Magisterial District Judge Rebecca Margerum ordered all charges against Robert Souffront held for county court.

Trooper Timothy Janosco Jr. of the Lykens station charged Souffront with shooting and killing James W. Harbst, 27, in a travel trailer to the rear of 185 Lenker Drive in Williams Township about 3:40 a.m.

Janosco, assigned to the criminal investigation unit, said he interviewed Souffront hours after the shooting and was told he and his wife argued over prescription medication and that she left about 4:40 p.m. the day before the shooting, Dec. 6.

After trying to call his wife numerous times on her cellphone, Souffront said he walked to the Lenker Drive address between 1 and 2 a.m. to see if his wife was with a man he suspected her of having an affair with and observed her get into a car with that man, later identified as Harbst.

Janosco said Souffront stated that he went home and retrieved a .25-caliber handgun, returned to the trailer

and realized his wife was inside with the man.

Entering the trailer, Souffront said he saw his wife performing sexual acts with Harbst, but she came after him and hit him in the face, prompting him to hit her back.

Janosco said Souffront said he was "blind with anger" knowing his wife was with Harbst, and he fired a shot at the man. Janosco said Souffront said Harbst then came after him, knocking the gun from his hand and began punching him. Janosco said Souffront said he recovered the weapon and fired at Harbst until the gun was empty.

Janosco said Harbst was shot three times, including the fatal shot that went through his heart and lung, and shots to his forearm and hip.

Nicole Souffront, who said she and Roberto will be married nine years next week, said he does not allow her to have friends, go places, talk on her cellphone or text people.

The day before the shooting, Nicole Souffront said she told her husband she was going to the store and took her 11-year-old daughter with her, leaving her remaining three teenage children from previous relationships at home.

She said that instead of going to the store, she dropped her daughter off at a house in Harrisburg where she could stay for the night and went out with Harbst in the city where they "had a few drinks and a good time."

Nicole Souffront said she and Harbst eventually returned to the trailer where she took off her shoes, glasses and coat and planned to lie down and rest.

She said Harbst was intoxicated and that there was nothing romantic between the two.

"The only relationship we had is a friend relationship," she said.

After hearing her husband yelling outside and then enter the trailer, the woman said she managed to get out and, once outside, heard a gunshot. She said she did not know how the gun went off or if there was a struggle.

"Once I got out I heard a shot, what happened from there is unknown to me," she said.

Minutes later, Nicole Souffront said her husband left the trailer, came to her and began pulling her hair, punching her and hitting her with an object and said, "I've been waiting for this for a long time."

In attempts to make him stop, Nicole Souffront said she kept telling her husband that she loves him but he only stopped after seeing the lights of the state police cruiser that arrived at the scene.

Under cross examination, Nicole Souffront said she answered her cellphone one or two times and told her husband that she would be home soon, although she had no intention of doing so and said that he had no idea she was with Harbst.

She also denied having sex with or performing sexual acts on Harbst while in the travel trailer the morning of the shooting.

Trooper David Yearick of the Lykens station, one of the first to arrive at the scene, said Roberto Souffront was found outside the trailer, obeyed orders to lie down and was taken into custody without incident.

At the end of testimony, deputy public defender Mary Klett asked that the charge of criminal attempt to commit murder filed on behalf of Nicole Souffront be dismissed since her injuries were not life-threatening and that she was treated and released from a hospital within hours.

Shannon Sprow, chief deputy district attorney, countered saying the only way Souffront stopped the attack on his wife was when police arrived. If they would not have come when they did, the woman could have suffered more serious injuries.

Margerum agreed and ordered all offenses held for court.

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