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Rogel Suero to stand trial in death of Wilson woman after home invasion

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: May 01 2013 03:39:08 PM CDT
Updated On: May 01 2013 04:33:43 PM CDT

The plan was to steal a grandmother's safe, but the grandmother died of a heart attack two months later, investigators said.

EASTON, Pa. -

The plan was to steal a grandmother's safe, but the grandmother died of a heart attack two months later, investigators said.

Now, several people, including the woman's granddaughter, are heading to trial in connection with her death.

Rogel Suero was in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing during which one of his alleged co-conspirators testified. The judge also heard from the victim herself through a 911 call.

"It's chilling to listen to it minutes after she was robbed, minutes after she had a gun put to her head," said Patricia Mulqueen, a Northampton County prosecutor.

The frantic 911 call made by Carrie Smith highlighted the terror the 76-year-old woman must have felt. During the call, Smith could be heard saying, "I was robbed. Please send somebody."

Smith's granddaughter, Rebecca Johnson; her boyfriend, Rogel Suero; her cousin, David Bechtold; and a fourth, unidentified man, got inside Smith's home in Wilson and robbed her around 1 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2012, police said.

During the 911 call, Smith said one of the men had a gun and told the operator, "It was in the back of my head because they didn't want me to see their face." She also said they woke up her up, pulled her hair and stuffed a pillow over her face. "They wanted me to get up, so whoever it was, they knew where my safe was."

During the preliminary hearing, the judge heard from Bechtold, 18, Johnson's cousin and the alleged driver of the car.

He said it was Johnson, who from her attic bedroom, hatched the plan to rob her grandmother.

The group may have gotten the cash, but the county coroner testified the woman had a heart attack during the robbery. The prosecution said that led to her death several months later.

"Her life changed drastically as a result of the heart attack and fear she felt from the robbery," Mulqueen said.

On the stand, Bechtold said the safe contained $50,000.

Police said they're still searching for the fourth man.