Prosecution, defense spar over police reports in Michael Rosfeld case
Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket chastised prosecutors in the homicide case against Michael Rosfeld on Tuesday for the length of time it took them to hand over certain evidence to defense attorneys.
The hearing came one week before jury selection is scheduled to begin in Dauphin County. Rosfeld is charged in connection with the June 2018 killing of Antwon Rose II in East Pittsburgh.
Rose, of Rankin, was a passenger in a vehicle suspected in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier in nearby North Braddock. Rosfeld opened fire on 17-year-old Rose and another passenger, Zaijuan Hester, as they ran from a subsequent traffic stop in East Pittsburgh.
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey requested Tuesday’s hearing.
He complained that prosecutors – Chief Trial Deputy Daniel Fitzsimmons and Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Fodi – lagged in turning over two police reports, one from Allegheny County Police and one from a state police trooper. Both reports contained statements from William Ross, the man shot in the North Braddock drive-by.
In a July 19 interview with county police, Ross said he was near Fa’s Market during the North Braddock shooting. He said a gold car pulled near the market, and he noticed Rose in the front passenger seat. He said he heard someone say, “Is that him?” followed by shooting from the back passenger window, according to the paperwork.
He did not identify a shooter, but said he saw Rose in the front seat and the shots came from the back passenger window. Hester was later arrested.
Months later, Ross apparently told a state trooper that Rose had shot him, according to the police report. Ross was allegedly involved in a high-speed police chase in Greene County on Jan. 16 during which he was seriously injured. State Trooper James Monkelis was assigned to his hospital room and reported that Ross made remarks about having a bullet in his leg, and he’d been shot by Rose. According to that police report, the trooper phoned the information to Allegheny County police, who said they were aware of the information.
Thomassey complained that he didn’t receive that Jan. 16 report until Feb. 27.
“What’s the hold up?” Bicket asked.
Fitzsimmons disputed the wording of the report, indicating that from what Inspector Andrew Schurman has told him, the trooper did not mention that Ross declared Rose was the one who shot him. He said the first time either he or Fodi heard of the Monkelis report was in mid-February when Thomassey requested it. From there, he said, there was only vague information to go on, and prosecutors thought at first the incident happened in West Virginia.
Fitzsimmons said the trooper told them they’d have to subpoena his report, but some wrangling got them the report Feb. 26. They turned it over to Thomassey then.
Bicket said he was concerned by the fact that Allegheny County Police apparently did not inform prosecutors about the call from Monkelis. Fitzsimmons again said the content of the phone call was in dispute, and Monkelis only said Ross mentioned he’d been shot in an incident in which Rose was involved.
Jury selection in the case is set to begin March 12 in Dauphin County. The trial is scheduled for March 19 back in Allegheny County, and Bicket noted his intent to work 10-hour days and, if necessary, through the weekend.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, email@example.com or via Twitter .