Robert Steuber, 82-year-old facing murder charge, dies in custody of apparent natural causes | TheUnion.com

Robert Steuber, 82-year-old facing murder charge, dies in custody of apparent natural causes

Robert Steuber, the 82-year-old Penn Valley man facing a murder charge in Nevada County, died Thursday while in custody, authorities said.

Steuber, accused in the July fatal shooting of Sandra Lebarron, 67, died while at a local hospital of apparent natural causes, said Sgt. Mike Sullivan, chief deputy coroner.

Arrested hours after Lebarron's death, Steuber remained in a wheelchair during his court appearances. Attorneys said he had health and hearing problems. He failed to appear at some court hearings.

Jeff Ackerman, a former publisher of The Union, befriended Steuber during his time at the newspaper's helm. He said Lebarron, who lived with Steuber, likely was the only person who cared for him.

"There's no excuse for what he did," Ackerman said. "It's horrible what he did."

Authorities accused Steuber of arguing with Lebarron in their home moments before he left to retrieve a gun. He then returned to Lebarron and shot her.

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Ackerman called Steuber a curmudgeon, gruff and a man with strong political views. However, he also was a man who became a pilot despite being born with a club foot. He collected rare coins and fixed watches that people would send to him from across the world.

Don Rogers, current publisher of The Union, also had a friendship with Steuber. Rogers said he last spoke with Steuber about a week after his arrest.

"Robert couldn't hear a thing that I said," Rogers said. "He was obviously, to me anyway, just obviously not in his right mind."

A judge had found Steuber incompetent and ordered he go to a state facility until his competency was restored. He last appeared in court on Dec. 14.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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