TribLIVE

| Home


Weather Forecast
 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Man convicted in 1994 Hazelwood murder acquitted in retrial

About Adam Brandolph

Daily Photo Galleries


By Adam Brandolph

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 4:44 p.m.

A man who spent the past 18 years in prison for the shooting death of a Hazelwood woman will soon be a free man.

An Allegheny County jury on Wednesday acquitted Terrell Johnson, 37, of all charges in a retrial for the July 22, 1994, killing of Verna Robinson, 30. Someone fatally shot her in Hazelwood before she could testify against Johnson in an assault case and against a gang member in a drive-by shooting.

Johnson, who has maintained his innocence, cried as the jury foreman read the verdict.

“Justice has been served,” said Johnson's wife, Saundra Cole. “It's been a long 18 years.”

Assistant District Attorney Russ Broman could not be reached. The District Attorney's Office did not return calls.

Barbara Robinson, the victim's mother, left the courtroom without speaking shortly after the verdict.

The jury informed Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen that it was deadlocked on Wednesday, the second day of deliberations, but came to a unanimous decision shortly after 4 p.m.

“Sometimes justice takes a long time, but it comes,” said defense attorney Turahn Jenkins.

Jenkins and Broman met with the jury privately after the verdict. Jenkins said jurors told them their visit to the crime scene on Monday helped them better visualize what was being said in the courtroom.

“They said there were things presented to them that made it so they couldn't prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

A jury in 1995 convicted Johnson of the killing primarily on the testimony of Evelyn “Dolly” McBride, who said she saw him shoot Robinson.

A judge in August 2009 granted Johnson a new trial based on testimony from Kenneth Robinson — no relation to the victim — who said McBride was in his home at the time of the killing and could not have seen the shooting.

A month later, prosecutors offered Johnson a plea deal of 71⁄2 to 15 years in prison, which would have allowed him to go home with credit for time served. He elected the second trial.

Jurors this month heard conflicting testimony from McBride and Kenneth Robinson. They also heard from lawyers about how their testimony changed.

The two-week trial spawned marches and protests outside the courthouse from Johnson supporters. Relatives of Johnson and Robinson packed the courtroom.

Jenkins said he was hopeful the state would release Johnson from the state prison in Greene County on Thursday morning.

“I'm happy for him,” he said.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

 

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Fire destroys Eau Claire market, no injuries reported
  2. Pa. unemployment rate at the lowest since 2008; more workers finding jobs
  3. Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
  4. Breaking down Saturday’s Pirates-Brewers game
  5. Survivors in critical condition a day after fifth Armstrong County car crash victim dies
  6. Man found fatally shot in Larimer a mile away from Homewood peace march
  7. Crews search for Latrobe woman in Linn Run State Park
  8. Chat with Dejan Kovacevic: April 18, 2014
  9. Pens insider: Penalty killing a concern in Stanley Cup playoffs
  10. Police investigate shooting in Muddy Creek
  11. Pirates Charities 50/50 raffle to benefit We Are FR Fund
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.