Testimony about a drive-by shooting that preceded the shooting death of Antwon Rose will be permitted during the homicide trial of Michael Rosfeld, the former police officer who killed Rose, a judge ruled Monday.
However, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket said details of a robbery in which defense attorney Patrick Thomassey says Rose was involved will not be allowed unless the judge says otherwise.
Rosfeld is scheduled to go on trial beginning Tuesday morning.
Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Daniel Fitzsimmons argued Monday against allowing Thomassey to include details of Rose’s alleged involvement in the robbery.
Thomassey argued the evidence of Rose’s alleged involvement is necessary because “it’s the complete story.” He wrote in court documents that such evidence would support Rosfeld’s belief that “one of the occupants who exited the vehicle … pointed a gun at him.”
Fitzsimmons said the prosecution intends to address the two firearms found in the vehicle in which Rose was a passenger. One of the firearms contained the DNA of backseat passenger Zaijuan Hester, who pleaded guilty to the North Braddock drive-by shooting that led to Rosfeld’s traffic stop in East Pittsburgh. The other had Rose’s DNA on it.
Rose, a black 17-year-old, ran from the felony traffic stop. Rosfeld, who was newly sworn in to the borough’s police force, is white. Rosfeld shot Rose three times, killing him. Authorities later said Rose was unarmed.
Thomassey indicated he will argue that a clip found in Rose’s pocket after his death matched the gun that contained Hester’s DNA.
Rosfeld stopped the car Rose was a passenger in because it matched the description of one involved in a drive-by minutes earlier.
Thomassey previously said he wants the jury of six men and six women to weigh only one charge: first-degree murder. Bicket said Monday he will decide as the trial plays out.
“I disagree with Mr. Thomassey,” Bicket said, “but that doesn’t mean he won’t make a compelling argument to change my mind. That doesn’t mean he will, either.”
Rosfeld is charged with one count of homicide. Prosecutors want the jury to consider third-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.