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Trial set for September in Derry Township fatal shooting

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Monday, July 14, 2014, 10:56 p.m.

An Allegheny County man who claims he shot and killed a robber in self-defense will go to trial in the fall in Westmoreland County.

Ronell Moses, 22, of Penn Hills is charged with criminal homicide in the Dec. 29, 2012, death of Michael Volk. He will stand trial in September.

His defense attorney told Judge Rita Hathaway on Monday that his client has rejected a plea bargain that likely would have required him to admit guilt to a lesser charge.

Police contend Volk, 24, of West Wheatfield, Indiana County, stormed into a Derry Township mobile home, where Moses was staying, to steal his drugs and money.

Investigators said Moses shot Volk during the robbery, which Volk had plotted with three others. “You're not interested in a plea bargain?” Hathaway asked Moses during a pretrial hearing.

Moses told the judge she was correct.

Hathaway told Moses that prosecutors are expected to seek a conviction of first-degree murder, an intentional killing that carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Karen Patterson and defense attorney Leo Harper declined to reveal details of the proposed plea deal, which was not discussed in court.

Moses is the only person facing homicide charges in Volk's death.

Police initially charged Volk's alleged conspirators, Jesus Santiago, Tiffany Blattenberger and Danielle Clawson, with murder, but that charge was later dismissed.

Santiago, 43, of Derry pleaded guilty last week to robbery and conspiracy charges and was sentenced to serve 3 12 to7 years in prison.

Blattenberger, 23, of Derry and Clawson, 25, who lived with Volk in West Wheatfield, have cooperated with prosecutors. Their robbery cases are pending.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or

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