Accused officer killer admitted guilt after listening to recording of mother, detective testifies
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.