Jury for Michael Rosfeld, charged in killing of Antwon Rose, to come from Dauphin County
A jury will be chosen from Dauphin County in the homicide case against former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, charged in the 2018 killing of Antwon Rose II, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
The DA’s office tweeted Tuesday that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that Dauphin County would provide the jury.
Patrick Thomassey, defense counsel for Rosfeld, had argued from the beginning that no local jury could fairly decide the case, which has gained national attention. Prosecutors argued that the trial was being unnecessarily ripped from local residents.
Common Pleas Judge Alex Bicket ruled in Thomassey’s favor last week, approving his motion for a change of venire. Thomassey had filed motions for both a change of venue, when the trial is moved elsewhere, and change of venire, when a jury is brought in from elsewhere.
Rosfeld faces one count of homicide in the June 19 shooting. His trial is scheduled to begin Feb 26. It is not yet clear when jury selection will take place. Court documents related to the state supreme court’s decision were not immediately available.
Bicket wrote in his Jan. 14 opinion that the outside jury could help the prosecution, saying that “the multitude of protests in the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh and elsewhere in Allegheny County may be a basis for potential juror bias that would and should concern the Commonwealth and its case as well.”
The judge also cited a poll of potential jurors he conducted over three days in December. Bicket asked those who showed up for jury duty whether they had heard, seen or read coverage of the case. Bicket said that out of 224 potential jurors polled, 81 percent said they were aware of the shooting.
Of those who had heard of the case, 40 percent said they had a fixed opinion. About half of those with a fixed opinion said they could set their feelings aside and fairly consider the evidence.
The jury for the trial of Richard Poplawski, convicted of killing three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009, was also chosen from Dauphin County.
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning said in that instance that intense pretrial publicity likely tainted the Allegheny County jury pool, saying at the time, “In light of the pervasive and prejudicial pretrial publicity, the defense motion is granted to the extent of a change of venire.”
That selection took place over several days in early June 2011.
Rose was a passenger in a car suspected in a drive-by shooting in North Braddock minutes before the deadly shooting in East Pittsburgh. As Rosfeld ordered the driver to the ground, Rose and backseat passenger, Zaijuan Hester, ran from the car. Rosfeld opened fire, authorities said.
The homicide charge was filed a week later.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .