Penn Hills boy, 15, faces trial on homicide charge regarding death of Mt. Oliver man
A 15-year-old Penn Hills boy who was charged with homicide in July will stand trial as all his charges were upheld by a Pittsburgh Municipal Court judge.
Myzle Ford appeared before Judge Tom Caulfield on Friday in gray prison garb. He was represented by a public defender, Christopher Patarini, who spoke on Ford’s behalf and entered a not guilty plea.
Patarini was unable to persuade Caulfield that the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan P. Fodi, did not establish criminal intent for the charges against Ford. They include homicide, conspiracy to commit robbery and inflict serious bodily injury, robbery and possession of a gun as a minor.
Fodi said criminal intent is not intended to be established during a preliminary hearing. Instead, that would be decided during a jury trial.
Caulfield ordered that all charges against Ford be held for court.
The charges stem from a robbery July 14 during which Joshua A. Makhanda-Lopez, 30, of Mt. Oliver was shot three times in the head. Makhanda-Lopez’s dead body was found still seat belted in his car, which was parked in a lot for a Sharon Court apartment complex in Penn Hills.
According to police, Ford fled to his mother’s house on Frankstown Road after he and another suspect allegedly were involved in the shooting on Sharon Court. He and some others in the house came out when his mother told him to exit, police said.
Onaje Dickinson, 20, of Pittsburgh, whom police described as Ford’s accomplice, did not come out of the house.
When Penn Hills police Officer Jared Rothert entered the home’s basement, Dickinson reportedly opened fire on him. The incident was captured on body camera video that was released by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office last month.
Rothert shot and killed Dickinson. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. cleared the officer in the death of the 20-year-old, who was wanted on a warrant in connection with a July 5 robbery.
At Ford’s preliminary hearing, Fodi played a video clip of Allegheny County Police detectives’ interview with Ford and his mother.
During the interview, Ford tells a detective Dickinson used his phone to message Makhanda-Lopez, who was to sell him marijuana. He said he didn’t know Makhanda-Lopez.
“And then (Dickinson) told me I’m going to have to come or he’s going to kill me. And I said, bro, I’m not going, bro,” Ford said in the video.
Ford said he went with Dickinson across the street, and that’s when Dickinson “pulled out the gun and shot him.” At that point, Ford said, he ran back to his mother’s house, which was across the street.
Police recovered two guns after investigating the shootings — a silver, .38-caliber revolver and a black, 9mm handgun. Bullet casings from a 9mm handgun were recovered where Makhanda-Lopez was found.
A detective asked Ford during the taped interview which gun he had. Ford said he was unsure but thought he had the black 9mm and that Dickinson had the silver revolver.
“But I know for a fact I didn’t shoot him,” Ford told detectives.
He then said he ran back to his mother’s house because he was scared. When Dickinson followed, Ford said someone let him into the basement. Ford said he then gave the gun back to Dickinson.
Ford is being held at Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh without bail. He is scheduled for a formal arraignment Oct. 8 in Allegheny County Court.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .