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Gunshots killed Penn Hills police Officer Crawshaw instantly, pathologist testifies

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 12:34 p.m.

A gunshot just below the left eye of Penn Hills police Officer Michael Crawshaw killed him instantly, a forensic pathologist testified Wednesday.

The shot, which lacerated Crawshaw's brain stem and fractured his skull, caused “instant, immediate, incapacitating death,” said Todd Luckasevic, a forensic pathologist at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.

Luckasevic's testimony highlighted the fifth day of Ronald Robinson's capital murder trial, but forced Crawshaw's family from Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski's courtroom because of graphic photographs prosecutors displayed to the jury.

Police say Robinson, 35, of Homewood killed Crawshaw about 8:25 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2009, moments after he killed Danyal Morton, 40, of Penn Hills inside a nearby house over a $500 drug debt.

Prosecutors say Robinson sprayed Crawshaw's white and gold police car with 13 rounds from an AK-47 military-style assault rifle, striking the officer twice — once in the head and once in the upper left arm.

Earlier Wednesday, Luckasevic testified that Morton was shot four times in the chest and abdomen. Any of the wounds were potentially fatal, Luckasevic said.

Robinson's defense attorney, Veronica Brestensky, has not disputed most of the facts in the case, and Robinson does not deny his role in the shootings. Brestensky, however, believes her client should be convicted of second-degree murder rather than first-degree because Robinson killed Crawshaw while attempting to flee the scene of a felony.

Prosecutors on Thursday are expected to play Robinson's taped confession, wrapping up the trial.

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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