After clubbing his younger brother to death and chopping up the body, Stephen Austin told police he left the dismembered body in trash bags in a Jeep outside his Birdsboro home, then went shopping at Wal-Mart, a state trooper testified Thursday.

Austin later told his wife he had ''things to do,'' and drove around looking for places in Berks County to bury parts of his 22-year-old brother, Jonathan Austin, state Trooper Michael Sadusky of the Reading barracks testified at a preliminary hearing in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

Stephen Austin, 26, is charged with homicide, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence in his brother's May 25 death. Senior District Judge Sherwood Grigg sent all charges to Northampton County Court.

District Attorney John Morganelli, who believes it is a first-degree murder case, said he will not be seeking the death penalty.

Sadusky said that during a 21/2-hour interview, Stephen Austin confessed to hitting his brother several times in the head with a crowbar during a 3 a.m. argument over their ailing mother in a garage behind her house on Institute Road in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

Austin, the trooper said, told him he left the body in nearby woods and drove back to Birdsboro, arriving home about 6:30 a.m.

After getting a bow saw and pruning shears from his house and buying some trash bags, Austin went back to Northampton County. There, Austin told police, he severed the body's head, legs, arms and hands and drove back to Birdsboro with the body parts stashed in the back of his Jeep in black garbage bags, Sadusky said.

Austin parked the Jeep at his home at 504 E. Second Street. He later went shopping with his wife and children, stopping in Wal-Mart, a home renovation chain and a video store, Sadusky said. Later in the day, Austin told his wife Jennifer ''he had things to do'' and left in the Jeep.

Austin told police he drove around for a while in Maxatawany Township, thinking about places to get rid of the body parts, Sadusky testified.

Austin's wife later told police she thought her husband had been acting strangely that day, according to documents.

While her husband was scouting potential burial sites, Jennifer Austin went to the Exeter Township police station about 11:30 p.m. and told Officer Darrin S. Gartner she thought her husband had killed his brother and might be getting rid of the body, according to court records.

A description of Austin's Jeep was broadcast and township police spotted it along Route 345 near French Creek State Park. Police said he was caught after burying a leg.

''He showed us roughly where the leg was buried,'' Sadusky said.

The head and hands were found in the Jeep and the other body parts were found with Austin's help, Sadusky said.

Austin, who was a member of the Malvern Ambulance Service in Chester County, kept a downward gaze at the defense table while the grisly details were laid out in court.

Austin was returned to Northampton County Prison without bail.

State police at Belfast were involved early in the investigation. Austin's wife first called the 911 Center in Berks County, and the call was eventually transferred to the Belfast barracks, said Trooper Adam Frankelli. He answered the call from a ''woman who wanted to report a murder.''

Frankelli said he was familiar with the address the woman gave, 535 Institute Road, because he ''dealt with several instances in the past'' and dispatched a patrol car to see if anyone was injured. He said he knew ''Jonathan was back home from the Army.''

Frankelli then called Stephen Austin on his cell phone after getting the number from his wife. The line went dead in mid-sentence when Frankelli started to say the police wanted to speak to him, he said.