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Judge dismisses juror in Penn Hills cop shooting over prank call

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By Adam Brandolph
Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 12:50 p.m.

Christopher Eleam told an Allegheny County jury on Monday that his longtime friend Ronald Robinson said he was going to “get at” a man who owed him money for a quarter of an ounce of crack cocaine.

“I told him a couple hundred dollars isn't worth 25” years in prison, Eleam said on the third day of Robinson's capital murder trial.

“It's the game you're in” dealing drugs, Eleam, 34, of Penn Hills, recalled telling Robinson on Dec. 5, 2009, in the former Conemaugh Club in Homewood.

Prosecutors accuse Robinson, 35, of Penn Hills of killing Penn Hills police Officer Michael Crawshaw about 8:25 p.m., minutes after fatally shooting Danyal Morton, 40, the man police say owed Robinson money.

Eleam recounted that on Dec. 6, 2009, Robinson was in Eleam's house on Glendale Road in Penn Hills watching the Steelers play the Oakland Raiders. Eleam's girlfriend, Tamara Lowe, 34, testified Robinson left about 7:30 or 8 p.m. and returned about 45 minutes later “jittery” and “out of breath.”

When he came back, Robinson called his mother and said he had to talk to her, Eleam said. Hours later, Robinson called Eleam and told his friend, “I (messed) up.”

“I knew something was wrong with him, but I didn't know what,” Eleam said.

The trial will resume on Tuesday with testimony from others who saw Robinson on the day of the slayings.

Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski, who is presiding, dismissed a juror on Monday because the juror reported he got a call from someone claiming to be KDKA-TV reporter Harold Hayes asking about the case.

Sasinoski said investigators determined the call was a prank by the juror's son. Sasinoski dismissed the juror, who was not identified, and replaced him with an alternate.

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

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