Victim's mother reacts to self-defense plea in double-homicide trial

By Kelly McCarthy

January 15, 2014 Updated Jan 15, 2014 at 11:17 AM EDT

Montrose, PA (WBNG Binghamton) It's been nearly two years since two men were shot and killed in Great Bend, Pa. Now, the man charged with both homicides is on trial arguing it was self defense.

Jurors at the Susquehanna County Courthouse are starting to get a clearer picture of what happened on Feb. 11, 2012.

Lloyd Thomas, 47, is on trial for shooting and killing two men who came on his property in Great Bend.

Prosecutors argue that Thomas admitted to police shooting 28-year-old Gilberto Alvarez and 30-year-old Joshua Rogers.

The defense plans to use a new Pennsylvania law to protect Thomas from the crimes under self defense. Defense attorney George Lepley said he plans to use a 2011 law called the Castle Doctrine in his argument.

"Basically it extends a homeowner, or an individual in his residence rights to protect themselves," Lepley said. "They don't have to have as much of a duty to retreat; they're able to protect themselves and their property a little more aggressively from intruders."

After hearing this in court on Tuesday, a mother of one of the victims said she felt she needed to speak out about her son and his longtime friend.

"I haven't said anything to anybody, we've done what we're told and kept our mouth shut," said Sharon Rogers, mother of Joshua Rogers, "But I think our side needs to say something."

In court Tuesday, the Susquehanna County Coroner and an independent forensic pathologist took the stand. Both said the men died as a result of homicide.

"They weren't in the home when they were shot, but they were on the property and in Mr. Thomas' opinion they were presenting a threat to him," Lepley said.

Rogers' mother said they went to Thomas' home and gun shop to find out who shot at their car earlier that day.

"They can say what they want, but he initiated contact with this so it wasn't self defense," Rogers said, "If he hadn't shot at their car none of this would have happened."

Both her son and Alvarez were Army veterans who served together in Afghanistan.

"Here these boys have done their duty and then came back and got killed in Hallstead, Pa., and it's not right," Rogers said.

Rogers says her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and knows the men had some troubles in their past, but she still wonders what lead to their deaths.

"As a mother, you wonder, but my son was 30 years old and he just had a baby girl," Rogers said, "He was just so ecstatic about his baby girl, he was getting treated for his PTSD. He had his whole life ahead of him. Now, it's over."

Thomas was released from jail in June 2012 on $100,000 bail.

The prosecution will continue with testimony Wednesday morning in Susquehanna County Court.