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  1. #1
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    Ronald Robinson Sentenbced to 2 Life Terms In 2009 PA Slayings

    DA seeks death penalty in Penn Hills cop shooting

    The Allegheny County District Attorney will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing Penn Hills police officer Michael Crawshaw last month.

    Stephen A. Zappala Jr. filed notice of his intent this morning.

    Ronald Robinson, 32, of Homewood, is charged with shooting Officer Crawshaw as he responded to a call for a man with a gun at a home on Johnston Road. Mr. Robinson also is accused of killing Danyal Morton, who owed the defendant $500 from a drug deal.

    According to the notice filed today, prosecutors listed a number of aggravating circumstances to support their request for the death penalty. Those include: that the victim was a police officer killed in the line of duty; that the killing occurred during the commission of another felony and that two people were killed. The notice also lists an aggravating circumstance specifically related to the slaying of Mr. Morton -- that he was involved or in competition with Mr. Robinson in the sale or distribution of drugs, and that his death was related to that association.

    Investigators say Officer Crawshaw was sitting in his patrol car in the 200 block of Johnston Road awaiting backup on the evening of Dec. 6 when Mr. Robinson shot him with an assault rifle as he fled the scene. Officers later found Mr. Morton's body in a second-floor bathroom at the home in question.

    Mr. Robinson was arrested early the next morning. He had been out on parole at the time of the shootings.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10019/1029389-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

  2. #2
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    Trial delayed for suspect in slaying of Penn Hills officer

    The man accused of killing Penn Hills police Officer Michael Crawshaw will have to wait two more months for his trial after his attorneys requested a delay.

    Jury selection in the capital case against Ronald Robinson was scheduled to begin Tuesday. Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said Friday that he requested a delay to allow a mitigation expert to complete her report. Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel tentatively rescheduled the trial for March, he said.

    "The Supreme Court requires us to have a mitigation expert, and she has not finished her work," Thomassey said. "It generally takes these experts a year to do their work. It takes a long time."

    Robinson, 34, of Homewood is accused of fatally shooting Crawshaw on Dec. 6, 2009. The officer was responding to a 911 call on Johnston Road, where police said Robinson killed Danyal Morton, 40, inside a home.

    In January 2010, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. filed his intention to seek the death penalty in the case. Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli, the lead prosecutor on the case, said he agreed with the delay because it helps ensure that a conviction won't be overturned on appeal.

    "Our goal is to try this case once and try it right, so that if a conviction is obtained, it will withstand appellate court scrutiny," Tranquilli said. "Inasmuch as it will result in a brief postponement, it's time well spent."

    Mitigation experts help counter prosecution arguments that defendants should be put to death. Their work comes into play during the penalty phase of a trial. In order for juries to consider the death penalty, defendants must be convicted of first-degree murder.

    Thomassey is representing Robinson in the penalty phase, should the case get that far. Veronica Brestensky is representing Robinson in the verdict phase.

    "I'm just happy we got a delay to fully investigate everything to ensure he gets a full defense," Brestensky said.

    Police said Crawshaw, 32, was awaiting backup in his cruiser when Robinson fled the house and sprayed his car with bullets from an assault rifle.

    Tranquilli said that Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning granted a similar delay in the case against Richard Poplawski to allow for a mitigation expert to complete a report.

    The jury convicted Poplawski, who remains on death row for killing three Pittsburgh police officers at his Stanton Heights home on April 4, 2009.

    Read more: Trial delayed for suspect in slaying of Penn Hills officer - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...#ixzz1jSwmsVH2

  3. #3
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    Jury selection is set to begin for the death penalty trial of a man charged with fatally shooting a Pittsburgh-area police officer after also murdering another man over a $500 drug debt.

    The Allegheny County trial for 35-year-old Ronald Robinson was delayed last month after a key witness failed to show up, but he's since been jailed and will be called to testify.

    Prosecutors allege that Robinson gunned down Penn Hills officer Michael Crawshaw who arrived at the scene shortly after Robinson allegedly killed 40-year-old Danyal Morton over a $500 drug debt in December 2009.

    Jury selection was to begin Tuesday. Once the jury is selected, they'll begin hearing opening arguments and testimony on Nov. 26.

    Robinson has pleaded not guilty.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/art...#ixzz2C6yIMtWJ
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  4. #4
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    Jury selection delayed..

    Defendant in Pa. cop killing found 'unresponsive'

    A man charged with fatally shooting a Pittsburgh-area police officer has been found unresponsive in his jail cell, indefinitely delaying jury selection in his death penalty trial.

    Defense attorney Veronica Brestensky tells The Associated Press that 35-year-old Ronald Robinson is on life support and doctors have been running tests to determine what is wrong with him. She says he was found on the floor of his Allegheny County Jail cell on Tuesday. Brestensky says Robinson was not hanged and that initial tests have found no drugs in his system.

    Prosecutors allege Robinson gunned down Penn Hills officer Michael Crawshaw who arrived shortly after Robinson allegedly killed 40-year-old Danyal Morton over a $500 drug debt in December 2009.

    Jury selection was to begin Tuesday, with testimony scheduled for Nov. 26.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/art...#ixzz2C87r3FcW
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  5. #5
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    Doctors say it is a “medical mystery” why cop slaying suspect was found unresponsive in jail cell

    Doctors said it is a “medical mystery” why a man accused of fatally shooting a Penn Hills police officer was found unresponsive in his jail cell just hours before jury selection was to begin in his trial, Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli said Wednesday.

    Ronald Robinson, 35, remains under observation at Mercy Hospital but physicians have not been able to figure out what happened when jail guards discovered him in his cell at the Allegheny County Jail at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

    He was on life support for a time Tuesday night but by Wednesday morning had started to recover and was semi-conscious, Tranquilli said.

    Tranquilli said a small amount of marijuana was detected in Robinson’s blood but all other tests have come back negative. Tranquilli said Robinson is expected to remain at Mercy under observation until Friday, when he will be transferred back to the jail.

    Prosecutors and Robinson’s attorneys met with Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski Wednesday morning to discuss jury selection and trial preparation, said Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.

    Jury selection had been set to begin Tuesday morning in Robinson’s trial for the fatal shooting of Danyal Morton, 40, of Penn Hills and Officer Michael Crawshaw, 32, on Dec. 6. 2009.

    Police said Robinson killed Morton over a $500 drug debt and upon exiting the house fired at Crawshaw — the first officer to respond to the shooting — striking him several times as he sat in his patrol car.

    The District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty.

    Jury selection will now begin on Nov. 26, Tranquilli said.

    Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/2...#ixzz2CDnOhXPN
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  6. #6
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    Judge denies request to delay death-penalty trial to find defendant's medical issue

    The death penalty trial for the man accused of killing a Penn Hills police officer will begin Nov. 26.

    Defense attorneys for Ronald Robinson, who earlier this week was found unresponsive in his Allegheny County Jail cell and had to be intubated at UPMC Mercy, asked today to postpone the court date to try to give doctors time to figure out what may have caused the man's illness.

    Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski denied the request.

    He heard testimony from Robinson's intensive-care unit doctor, who said he did not know what happened to Robinson or whether it might occur again.

    Robinson was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell at the Allegheny County Jail about 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday -- the day originally slated for jury selection.

    He was taken to UPMC Mercy where he was given anti-seizure medications, sedated and intubated. His body temperature upon arrival at the hospital was 90.8 degrees.

    By the next day, Robinson was able to breathe on his own and was conscious. He was released back to the jail Thursday afternoon.

    "Do you have any explanation as to what happened to Mr. Robinson?" Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli asked.

    "I don't know what happened," Dr. Alan Barnett answered.

    He said he did not know what, if any, impact the illness had on Robinson or his mental state.

    "I don't know what he was like before, and leaving the hospital, I don't know what he's like now," the doctor said.

    He said that Robinson was able to answer questions and understand what was happening. He also participated in today's court proceeding by answering questions by the judge.

    Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey argued his client should be given additional time to recover before putting him in the high-stress environment of a capital case over a several-week period.

    "It makes no sense to me, in his condition, to start the trial," Mr. Thomassey said.

    Judge Sasinoski disagreed, saying he heard no testimony to preclude Robinson's participation at trial.


    Read more: http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/12321...#ixzz2CQVK2jfJ
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  7. #7
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    Jury selection has begun in the death penalty trial of Ronald Robinson, who is accused in the shooting death of Penn Hills Police Officer Michael Crawshaw.

    Out of a panel of 35 potential jurors, only seven indicated they had heard or read about the case.

    Judge Kevin Sasinoski and attorneys for both sides met with jurors individually Monday morning for further questioning.

    Robinson is also present during the questioning.

    Robinson is accused of shooting and killing Officer Micheal Crawshaw in December of 2009. He has been in jail since his arrest.

    Earlier this month, the jury selection process was delayed when Robinson was rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive in his cell.

    The prosecutor told the judge that doctors reported whatever happened to Robinson was a “medical mystery” and was given seizure medication.

    They also said he was under the influence of marijuana, which is a contraband problem at the jail.

    Robinson appeared to be having a seizure and was intubated because he couldn’t breathe on his own

    In October, Robinson’s trial was delayed when a key witness for the prosecution disappeared. Once U.S. Marshals found the witness, the presiding judge ordered him held in custody until trial.

    Selection wrapped up for the day after 4 p.m. with two picked.

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2012/...ls-cop-killer/
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  8. #8
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    Prosecutors reject guilty plea offer from accused killer of Penn Hills officer

    The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday rejected a guilty plea offer from attorneys representing a Homewood man accused of killing a Penn Hills police officer and another man.

    Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said defense attorneys offered to have Ronald Robinson, 35, plead guilty and serve two life terms. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    Zappala’s office rejected the plea after speaking with the victims’ families. Manko wouldn’t disclose what relatives of Officer Michael Crawshaw and Danyal Morton said.

    “Our office has an ethical responsibility to both consider the offer and communicate the offer to the family of the victims,” Manko said.

    Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey declined comment.

    Jury selection resumed in the afternoon.

    Former county prosecutor Stephie Ramaley said when plea offers are made, they are usually discussed with families and police.

    Then, “the families of victims and the police make a joint decision,” said Ramaley, who works at the North Side law firm Burns White.

    “Allegheny County does not seek the death penalty often. Typically when they do, (the victims) are law enforcement, children or multiple people,” she said.

    “Other (district attorneys) go after the death penalty in every case in order to get a plea to first-degree murder. The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office doesn’t work that way.”

    Prosecutors charged Robinson with fatally shooting Morton, 40, of Penn Hills, and Crawshaw, 32, on Dec. 6, 2009. Police said Robinson killed Morton in a Penn Hills home over a $500 drug debt, left the house and fired at Crawshaw, striking him several times while he still was in his patrol car.

    Henry Wiehagen, president of the county Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 91, said he favors the death penalty for cop killers.

    “(Crawshaw’s killing) was more or less an ambush. I have no problem with the death penalty in certain circumstances. I’d pull the switch,” Wiehagen said.

    But he added, “We have a good working relationship with the DA, and whatever his decision is fine by me.”

    Even if a jury gives Robinson the death penalty, he may never receive lethal injection.

    Pennsylvania’s death row holds 204 convicted killers, the fourth most in the country. It has executed only three killers since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978 and none in the past decade.

    Bruce Antkowiak, head of the criminology and law program at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, said by the time a case is ready for trial, prosecutors have thought about plea bargains and decided to push forward with the capital case.

    “Many have already contemplated the alternatives, and they think (death) is appropriate,” he said.

    Jury selection in the case began Monday, and five jurors have been seated.


    Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/3...#ixzz2DilNTOEy
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  9. #9
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    Change Of Venue Filed For Accused Cop Killer

    Lawyers for accused Penn Hills Cop Killer Ronald Robinson have filed for a change of venue.

    Robinson had agreed to plead guilty to 2 life sentences for murdering officer Michael Crawshaw, and one other person in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table, but Crawshaw’s family rejected that deal last week. The District Attorney is required to present the offer to the family of the victim.

    Because of that news, Robinson’s lawyers now claim the jury pool is tainted, and he can’t get a fair trial. Jury members are already being selected for the trial.

    Robinson is accused of shooting and killing Penn Hills Police Officer Michael Crawshaw in December of 2009. He has been in jail since his arrest.

    Earlier this month, the jury selection process was delayed when Robinson was rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive in his cell. The prosecutor told the judge that doctors reported whatever happened to Robinson was a “medical mystery” and he was given seizure medication.

    They also said he was under the influence of marijuana, which is a contraband problem at the jail.

    Robinson appeared to be having a seizure and was intubated because he couldn’t breathe on his own.

    In October, Robinson’s trial was delayed when a key witness for the prosecution disappeared. Once U.S. Marshals found the witness, the presiding judge ordered him held in custody until trial.

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2012/...ed-cop-killer/
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  10. #10
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    Judge denies change of venue in Pa. cop-killing case

    A judge has refused to change the venue of a trial for a man accused of killing a suburban Pittsburgh police officer after his attorney argued prosecutors tainted the jury pool by announcing the victims’ families had rejected his offer to plead guilty.

    Ronald Robinson’s attorney says his client’s death penalty murder trial should be moved out of Allegheny County because prosecutors released a statement during jury selection last week.

    The district attorney’s office said the victims’ families had rejected Robinson’s offer to plead guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Penn Hills police Officer Michael Crawshaw and another man in December 2009, and get life in prison instead of the death penalty.

    Nine jurors have been selected. That process will continue Monday.

    The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 3.

    http://www.vindy.com/news/2012/dec/0...lling-case/?nw
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