South Fayette man guilty of murdering wife, torching house
By Bobby Kerlik
Published: 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 email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.