Accused officer killer admitted guilt after listening to recording of mother, detective testifies
By Adam Brandolph
Published: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 1:40 p.m.
Ronald Robinson didn't deny the charges during his trial in the fatal shootings of a Penn Hills police officer and another man.
Yet jurors heard from more than 40 witnesses for the prosecution during a six-day trial, including a retired detective who said the Homewood man confessed to killing Officer Michael Crawshaw and Danyal Morton of Penn Hills only after he listened to a recorded statement from his mother.
“We told him, ‘Don't make your mother testify to this. Own up to it,' ” former Allegheny County Police Detective Terry Hediger told the jury Thursday. “He sort of was shaking his head in disbelief.”
After playing a portion of Rosetta Robinson's statement, “The defendant said, ‘Turn it off. I've heard enough,' ” Hediger said. A short time later, Ronald Robinson, 35, confessed.
The district attorney's office rested its case, and defense attorney Veronica Brestensky called no witnesses. Prosecutors are seeking first-degree murder verdicts and the death penalty. Brestensky is seeking to save her client's life with a second-degree murder verdict.
Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski will meet with attorneys Friday to finalize jury instructions. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning, after which the jury will begin deliberations.
Hediger told the jury Ronald Robinson killed Crawshaw, 32, of Shaler about 8:25 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2009, moments after he killed Morton, 40, inside a nearby house. Prosecutors say Robinson sprayed Crawshaw's police car with 13 rounds from an AK-47 military-style rifle, striking the officer twice — once in the head and once in the upper left arm.
Detectives interviewed Rosetta Robinson eight hours after the shootings. It's unclear what Rosetta Robinson said in the recording; the tape was not admitted as evidence.
Michael Garlicki, another retired county detective, said Ronald Robinson told detectives he met Morton at a halfway house in Braddock in 2008. Robinson told police he was taking GED classes Downtown in the days before the shootings when he ran into Morton and later gave him a quarter-ounce of crack cocaine “on consignment.”
Garlicki said Robinson told detectives he bought the AK-47 “on the street” and that it came with ammunition. He also told police he went to Morton's home to collect the $500 Morton owed him when “(stuff) went haywire.”
“He said he fired some shots and hit Mr. Morton,” Garlicki said. “He told us that when he got outside, an officer said, ‘Don't move.' He said he got scared and that he opened up” before running off.
Lashawntez Green, 15, testified that she discovered Robinson's driver's license in a nearby yard on the way home from school the following day.
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.
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysian Airlines flight, employer says
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Pirates notebook: Volquez, Morton struggle
- Original tea partyers returning to GOP fold
- ‘Un-American’? That’s Harry Reid, the Senate’s lowly smear artist
- College basketball notebook: WVU’s Staten, Iowa State’s Kane named 1st-team all-Big 12
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- 2 dozen injured as California school stage falls
- Penn State falls at Minnesota, rematch set for Thursday
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution