| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

South Fayette man guilty of murdering wife, torching house

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Bobby Kerlik
Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 5:18 p.m.

An Allegheny County jury deliberated about an hour Tuesday before finding a South Fayette man guilty of first-degree murder for beating and stabbing his wife to death during an argument over a televised Pittsburgh Penguins game.

Robert Abrams, 42, stood stoically as the jury foreman read the verdict, which included convictions of arson, abuse of a corpse and two counts of reckless endangerment for killing Jeanette Abrams, 44, and setting their house ablaze April 23, 2010. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole when he is sentenced.

Abrams' attorney Robert Foreman argued to the jury of six men and six women that Abrams' confession to police while in UPMC Mercy was invalid because of the pain-killing medication he took for his burns.

“We challenged the prosecution's case that was based on the confession,” Foreman said.

Deputy District Attorney David Spurgeon told the jury that Abrams beat his wife in the head with a hammer and then stabbed her during an argument over the late hour of the Penguins' triple-overtime playoff loss earlier that night on April 22 and set their home on fire. Spurgeon said the pair argued after she complained he had time to watch the game but not to get a job.

County police Detective Lewis Ferguson testified that Abrams was alert and coherent at the hospital when he told police about the argument. He said after he stabbed her he lit a dog toy on fire and used it to set the house on fire. He then ran to a neighbor's house and asked the neighbor to call 911.

The trial started Monday before Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read News