Crime

Verdict delivered in Snow Shoe murder trial

Matthew Dreibelbis leaves the Centre County Courthouse after the first day of his trial on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.  Dreibelbis was found guilty of killing Jeremy Cantolina in Snow Shoe in August 2017.
Matthew Dreibelbis leaves the Centre County Courthouse after the first day of his trial on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. Dreibelbis was found guilty of killing Jeremy Cantolina in Snow Shoe in August 2017. adrey@centredaily.com

A jury found a Howard man guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday.

Nine men and three women deliberated for about two-and-a-half hours before convicting 38-year-old Matthew Dreibelbis for shooting and killing 38-year-old Jeremy Cantolina on Aug. 11, 2017.

Judge Jonathan Grine sentenced Dreibelbis to life imprisonment without parole.

The jury did not read a verdict on the remaining two charges — third-degree murder and possession of a weapon.

Dreibelbis was connected to Cantolina’s death when Amber Cantolina told police she conceived a child with Dreibelbis while she and her husband were separated.

She also told police Dreibelbis said he wanted to kill her husband “multiple times” during their affair.

Police say Dreibelbis “confronted” Jeremy Cantolina is his driveway on North Moshannon Avenue in Snow Shoe that day last August, fired one round to scare him and confessed to firing a second round that killed the man. He admitted to police that he “killed for love.”

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said Jeremy Cantolina’s family was thankful for the efforts of state police at Rockview criminal investigators Jeffrey Ebeck and Jay Pollick, State College police detective John Aston and the other officers who participated in the investigation.

“It is a tragedy to both the families. It is something that never should have happened,” Cantorna said. “Although this verdict can’t bring back their son, it is at least some justice that they can take home with them.”

While difficult to pinpoint a key moment from a three-day trial, Cantorna said it was important to have a bullet come from a .38-caliber revolver that Dreibelbis said he used and was found in a place he said it would be, along with his fingerprints on it.

“This was a case that was built on the hard work of the police, the efforts of citizen witnesses who came forward and a lot of hard work by the district attorney’s office as well,” Cantorna said.

Dreibelbis’ attorney Karen Muir said she and Dreibelbis respect the jury’s verdict, though he and his family are not happy about it.

“This is a very sad, tragic day now for Matthew Dreibelbis,” Muir said.

In her closing argument, Muir was critical of Amber Cantolina, calling her a proven liar, thief, manipulator, someone who can’t be believed and “the devil.”

“Matt has always been kind and polite with me. He is a great father to his children. I think this is out of character for him,” Muir said. “I believe that Amber Cantolina caused all of this — that she wanted the best of all of the worlds and pitted everybody against everybody.”

Muir also said she plans to speak with Dreibelbis about a potential appeal.

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