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Judge rejects trial delay for man accused in Penn Hills officer's death

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 12:19 a.m.

An Allegheny County judge on Friday refused to push back the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting a Penn Hills police officer because of unanswered questions about his health.

Patrick Thomassey, one of two lawyers representing Ronald Robinson, said he requested the delay because he feared his client could collapse in the middle of the trial.

“We don't know what happened or what will happen,” Thomassey said. “This wasn't a hangnail.”

Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski on Wednesday rescheduled jury selection to Nov. 26 after guards found Robinson, 35, unresponsive inside his Allegheny County Jail cell hours before jury selection was to begin.

Robinson appeared in court Friday wearing a red jump suit, his wrists and ankles shackled.

Dr. Alan Barnett, a physician who treated Robinson in the intensive care unit at UPMC Mercy, said Robinson had abnormal motor skills and a body temperature of 90.8 degrees when he was hospitalized.

Barnett said he did not know what caused Robinson to need medical attention and could not say if it would happen again.

Prosecutors argued the trial should proceed.

“Basically, what we have in an individual who has pneumonia and is on a 10-day antibiotic,” said Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli. “There's no indication that there's anything wrong with him.”

Prosecutors charged Robinson with shooting and killing Danyal Morton, 40, of Penn Hills, and Officer Michael Crawshaw, 32, on Dec. 6, 2009.

Police said Robinson killed Morton in a Penn Hills home over a $500 drug debt, then left the house and fired at Crawshaw — the first officer to respond — striking him several times while he still was in his patrol car.

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

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