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Trooper: Suspect confessed to murder

Published March 05. 2013 05:01PM

An indigent transient from New Jersey, who lived in the area only 10 months, went on trial Monday in Schuylkill County Court charged with the brutal murder of a Mahanoy City man in his home while committing a burglary.

Jarvin M. Huggins, 19, who rented a room at the White Owl boarding house in Mahanoy Township, is charged with criminal homicide, burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, criminal trespass, theft, and unauthorized use of a vehicle for the brutal slaying of Gene M. Slavinsky, 48, at his home at 48 W. Centre St.

Twelve state troopers took their turn on the witness stand to tell the jury and Judge John E. Domalakes of their investigation, which led to the arrest of Huggins.

Trooper James Cuttitta testified of obtaining a confession from Huggins. The trooper testified that Huggins told him on April 3, 2012, he entered Slavinsky's home, who lived alone, through metal doors located on the front porch which lift up, to gain entrance into the cellar. He then turned off the electric power in the house and went behind the cellar steps leading from the first floor of the home. When Slavinsky came down the steps to check on the electric problem, Huggins struck him on the head with a foot long pole, which served as a window weight, which he found in the cellar. The murder weapon was given to the jury to see how heavy it was. Each juror handled the weapon.

The trooper testified Huggins told him he struck Slavinsky four or five times and when he fell to his knees, he continued to strike him, even when he was laid out on the cellar floor. Police estimated the victim had been struck about 40 times.

Huggins then turned the lights back on and went upstairs and took a laptop computer valued at $500 and about $200 in cash. He missed finding a large sum of cash stashed in a drawer. He found car keys hanging near the front door and took them and took off in Slavinsky's Ford Taurus vehicle and drove to his room at the White Owl. He then removed from the car the items he took from the home and returned the car and parked it in front of the victim's home.

The trooper testified Huggins, after giving the statement, told him he felt bad for what he had done and next time would think twice. He said he committed the robbery because he needed money and that after striking Slavinsky, he claimed only four or five times, that he realized what he had done and commented, "Oh my God," and dropped the lethal weapon and ran upstairs. He said he left through the front door and took the victim's car.

There was testimony that Huggins knew Slavinsky and had been in his home previously.

Slavinsky's body was not discovered until two days later by neighbors. Joseph McDonald and his grandmother, Kathleen McDonald, who were close friends of Slavinsky, expressed concern of not seeing him for two days and that he did not answer phone calls. They decided to go over to check it out.

Joseph McDonald said he had a key to the home and used it because the front door was locked, but he could see lights on in every room. They entered the home and called out but no one answered. The grandson checked the first floor and the second floor. His grandmother noted the cellar door partly open and asked her grandson to check the basement, where he found Slavinsky on the floor and noted a large amount of blood. He immediately ran back up and they called 9-1-1.

Mahanoy City Police Chief Mark Wiekrykas and Lt. John Kaczmarczyk, responded, and after finding Slavinsky was dead, called in the state police.

The troopers testified their investigation led to the arrest of Huggins. Cpl. David Dupree, crime scene investigator, testified on what he found in the basement. Slavinsky's body was lying near the cellar steps leading to the first floor. There was blood splattered over a wide area.

Walter Donnella, of 1112 Mahanoy St., who knew the defendant as he had done yard work for him, testified on April 6 he was outside and saw Huggins coming toward him on a bicycle. He stopped and asked him for money to leave town because he committed a crime by beating somebody. Donnella told him to go home and gather himself together and come back later.

When he left Donnell called borough police to find out what happened because he had heard rumors that there was a shooting and learned about the slaying on W. Centre Street.

Police then went to White Owl and came upon Huggins as he was leaving out the back way and took him into custody.

Trooper Edward Lizewski and Criminal Investigator Commander Michael Brownmiller testified of searching Huggins' living quarters and finding a large amount of coins. They removed clothing and a pair of sneakers from a trash bag which showed blood stains. They also found a laptop computer in his backpack.

District Attorney Karen Byrnes Noon, who is prosecuting the case, is not seeking the death penalty, but is seeking conviction of first degree murder, which carries a life sentence. She is trying to prove the killing was premeditated.

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