Defense attorneys are seeking court-appointed experts at taxpayers’ expense to prepare for the trial of a Stoystown man charged in the traffic death of a retired state trooper.

But before Judge Gerard Long will consider the appointments, he wants to know the cost.

Robert G. Mitchell, 27, is charged with vehicular homicide and driving while under the influence of cocaine and prescribed drugs in the July 1, 2006, death of 69-year-old Raymond Torta of Ebensburg.

Torta was killed when his SUV was struck from behind by a speeding car driven by Mitchell, Richland Township police said. The accident happened on the three-lane, northbound section of Route 219 between the Elton Road on-ramp and the Route 56 West exit.

An accident reconstructionist testified at Mitchell’s preliminary hearing that Mitchell was traveling between 63 and 70 mph in a 55-mph zone at impact.

Public defenders Lisa Lazzari and Maribeth Schaffer want Long to give them the OK to hire a pathologist and an engineer.

The experts are necessary, the attorneys said, to defend against the prosecution’s medical, lab and accident-reconstruction reports.

Mitchell is at SCI-Houtzdale, where he is being held for violating his state parole in a Somerset County burglary case.

The homicide case is set for trial in the November term of criminal court, but may not be ready by then, officials said.

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