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Lesbian lovers accused of killing a former girlfriend

MEADVILLE, Pa. -- Brandy M. Stevens, 20, was still alive but probably beyond feeling pain when a woman she had loved helped to bury her.

Jade N. Olmstead, 18, and her new lover, Ashley M. Barber, told police that they invited Stevens to their Cochranton-area home on May 17 and then savagely beat and choked her and buried her in a grave they had waiting, Pennsylvania state police Trooper Eric Mallory testified during a preliminary hearing for the two women Wednesday.

Both will stand trial on charges of homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide, Vernon Township District Judge Michael Rossi ruled. Mallory testified that Barber and Olmstead admitted to the killing and described their relationship and their relationship to the victim in separate interviews with police.

Olmstead greeted Stevens and lured her into the woods near the home that she shared with Barber and Barber's parents in Wayne Township, to see a crude fort that she and Ashley Barber were building. Barber was hiding there. At the fort, the two women began punching and kicking Stevens and stuffed a "Saw" cap into her mouth to stop her pleading for her life and screaming.

"They said they were freaking out from her screams," Mallory said.

Stevens was knocked to the ground by the two women. Barber put a rope around her neck and strangled her while Olmstead alternately hit her in the head with a shovel and helped to choke her, Mallory said.

Barber also repeatedly pounded Stevens' head against a stump and told police that a bruise on her own forehead came from head-butting Stevens' besides.

"She was on the victim's back with her knee in her spine, pulling her head back with the rope ... and letting it hit the stump," Mallory said.

The two women rolled Stevens into a shallow grave that they had prepared for her at the fort. When they saw that she was still breathing, they threw a large rock onto her face and poured water into her mouth and nose.

"She said that her worst fear was being buried alive," Mallory said of Barber. "She was trying to kill her."

The results of an autopsy by Erie County forensic pathologist Eric Vey showed that Stevens suffocated on dirt, police Trooper Phillip Shaffer testified.

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