The murder trial of Elizabeth Collazo, accused of killing the father of her four children in Williams Township, has been pushed back to next year, according to published reports.
Northampton County Judge Edward Smith made that ruling Tuesday after hearing testimony that the defense needed more time to prepare mitigation experts, the Express-Times reports. The trial had been set for next month, but will now take place in January.
Those experts will help defense attorneys argue that Collazo, 43, does not deserve the death penalty if she's convicted in the killing of Mark Werkheiser. Werkheiser, 38, was found shot to death in his home March 15. He and Collazo -- who was living in Easton at the time of her arrest -- had been involved in a custody dispute when he died.
Collazo's lawyers have been trying to get the death penalty removed as a factor in the trial, but the newspaper notes that Smith indicated this will remain a capital murder case.
As she was led from court, Collazo cried out "I love you" to three of the children, the Morning Call says. First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck called the incident "cheap manipulation."
The case so far:
- March 15: Mark Werkheiser is found dead by his daughter at his home on Browns Drive in Williams Township, shot multiple times. He and Collazo had been due in court that day for a custody hearing.
- March 27: Collazo is charged by state police with criminal homicide in Werkheiser's death. "This was a cold, pre-meditated, planned act," Houck tells reporters at a news conference.
- March-April: Numerous community fundraisers -- which continue today -- spring up around the Wilson and Easton area to help Werkheiser's kids.
- April 20: At Collazo's preliminary hearing, police play a recording -- made by investigators without Collazo's knowledge -- in which she tells a friend how she killed Werkheiser.
- June 6: Prosecutors announce they'll seek the death penalty against Collazo.
- Sept. 5: Collazo's trial is scheduled for Nov. 5.
- Sept. 28: Collazo's attorneys ask the judge to drop burglary charges against her. Those charges are considered by prosecutors to be the "aggravating circumstances" that would allow the death penalty.
- Oct. 9: Judge Edward Smith agrees to move the trial to January.