Share This Page

Text message proves a robbery plot was afoot in Derry slaying, assistant DA tells judge

| Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Westmoreland County prosecutor said on Friday that there is enough evidence to support charges that an Indiana man was killed as part of a botched robbery in Derry Township last year.

Assistant District Attorney Karen Patterson told a Westmoreland County judge that a text message between 42-year-old Jesus Santiago and the victim, Michael Volk, prove a robbery plot was afoot.

“This was a homicide committed during the course of a felony robbery,” Patterson said.

During a pretrial hearing on Friday, state police Trooper Michael Bigelow testified that on Dec. 29, Volk texted Santiago about the plot.

“Ha, ha, ha. You ready to get that ...,” read the message, Bigelow told the judge.

Volk, 24, was gunned down during an attempted robbery of Ronell Moses, police said.

Police contend Danielle Leigh Clawson, 23, of West Wheatfield, Indiana County, drove Volk, her boyfriend, to Santiago's home, where he planned to rob Moses.

According to police, Santiago met Volk outside the home and Clawson left the residence with Santiago's girlfriend, Tiffany A. Blattenberger, 23, of Derry. They returned and found Volk dead inside, police said.

Police said Clawson, Blattenberger and Santiago were held inside the mobile home at gunpoint by Moses, who demanded a cellphone and called someone for a ride.

The prosecution charged Santiago, Blattenberger and Clawson with first-degree murder and second-degree murder. According to testimony from a preliminary hearing in March, witnesses said Moses shot Volk.

Moses, 21, of Penn Hills faces a charge of first-degree murder and has claimed he shot Volk in self-defense.

Santiago and Clawson were in court on Friday to ask that the murder charges against them be dismissed for lack of evidence.

“None of the conspirators here were responsible for shooting Mr. Volk,” said Clawson's defense attorney, John Sweeney.

Judge John Blahovec said he will issue a ruling in the case soon.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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.