Attorneys ask for change of venue in trial of man accused of killing Penn Hills police officer and another man
A Homewood man accused of killing a Penn Hills police officer and another man can't get a fair trial in Allegheny County because prosecutors released information about a proposed plea bargain to the media that “tainted” the jury pool.
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said in a motion requesting a change of venue for the trial of Ronald Robinson that current and potential jurors were tainted last week when Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, told reporters that his office had rejected a plea deal that would have sent Robinson away for two life terms without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Robinson, 35, who is charged with the Dec. 6, 2009, fatal shootings of Officer Michael Crawshaw, 32, and Danyal Morton, 40, of Penn Hills. Police said Robinson killed Morton in a Penn Hills home over a $500 drug debt, left the house and fired at Crawshaw, striking the officer several times while he still was in his patrol car.
Both Manko and Thomassey declined comment.
In the motion filed on Friday, Thomassey said Manko “unilaterally and without warning to counsel” released the information.
“The proposal was not made in open court, nor was it intended to be communicated to any party beyond those required to make a decision as to whether or not to accept the proposed plea,” Thomassey said.
Prosecutors rejected the plea after speaking with the victims' families. Manko wouldn't disclose what relatives of Crawshaw and Morton said.
Jury selection in the case began on Nov. 26. Eight jurors have been seated. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on Jan. 3.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.