Man convicted in Spring Garden murder

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After a day of deliberation, an Allegheny County jury convicted a North Side man yesterday of killing a woman whose remains were discovered in a Spring Garden basement six months after she was reported missing.

The jury found 34-year-old Michael Molina guilty of third degree murder and unlawful restraint in the death of Melissa Snodgrass. Pamela Deloe, who lived in a home with the defendant, testified that Mr. Molina beat Ms. Snodgrass with a handgun because she owed him money for drugs. The defendant faces a separate trial for the March 14, 2004, beating of Ms. Deloe.

On Sept. 19, Michael Benintend, who also had been charged in the homicide, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and unlawful restraint of the victim. His sentencing was deferred until after he testified about watching Mr. Molina beat Ms. Snodgrass with a sawed-off baseball bat.

Forensic pathologists determined Ms. Snodgrass died as a result of at least five blows to the head. Investigators used dental records to identify her after her remains and the remains of her dog Baby were found March 9, 2004, in a known crack house blocks from her home. She disappeared Sept. 7, 2004, after leaving to take Baby on a walk.

Mr. Molina faces a maximum sentence of 45 years based upon his prior record.

Mr. Molina will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. March 15, by Allegheny County Judge David R. Cashman.


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