Man gets life terms after pleas in slayings, other crimes

June 1, 2022 GMT

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to criminal homicide and other charges in a three-day crime spree in western Pennsylvania last year that included the ambush and murder of a couple in the driveway of their home.

Victor Steban, 54, of North Huntingdon pleaded guilty Wednesday in Westmoreland County to more than 30 criminal charges in seven separate cases for crimes in May 2021 that included the shooting deaths of Jacob Erdeljac, 40, and Mara Casale, 27, in the driveway of their Penn Township home, the Tribune-Review reported.

Prosecutors said the guilty pleas came as part of an agreement under which they agreed not to seek the death penalty. Police said Steban also tried to set his home on fire, shot into two unoccupied homes and tried to steal a pickup truck at gunpoint.

Steban, who offered no explanation in court for his actions, was sentenced to two life prison terms and concurrent sentences totaling 46 to 96 years in prison, the Tribune-Review reported.


District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli said in a statement that the pleas will ensure that the defendant “will never walk the streets as a free man or threaten our community again.” She said the victims’ families were consulted and she hoped they bring “some closure and peace to Jake and Mara’s loved ones who have suffered unimaginable tragedy.”

Detective Randall Gardner testified at an earlier hearing that Steban gave police a detailed account of his actions. He said the suspect stood over the male victim, the intended target, and said “I told you this would happen. I told you not to run your mouth.” Authorities said he told them Casale was killed because she happened to be present.


This story has been corrected to correct dateline to Greensburg rather than Westmoreland.