Death penalty to be sought in rape, strangulation murder

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty against a man accused of breaking into a central Pennsylvania home and raping and strangling an elderly woman.

Forty-eight-year-old Kristopher Gartrell is charged with criminal homicide, rape, kidnapping and arson, among other charges in the murder of 87-year-old Virginia Barbour.

Adams County prosecutors say they will seek capital punishment if he is convicted of first-degree murder. They said execution is warranted because other felonies were committed, the victim would have been a witness on those charges, she was tortured and the defendant has a “significant history of felony convictions.”

Prosecutors allege that he entered the Huntingdon Township home the day before Thanksgiving, forced Barbour to give up her valuables, raped and strangled her and tried to set the house on fire.