Man faces trial in killing of Mount Oliver woman

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Detectives investigating the death of a Mount Oliver woman at her home used statements from two witnesses and DNA samples collected from five piles of vomit to arrest a suspect.

The case against Deshawn Pryor, 20, of Pittsburgh, is circumstantial, the defense attorney, prosecution and judge all agreed. But District Judge David Barton said Friday the evidence was “so clearly and timely connected” that it warrants ordering Mr. Pryor to stand trial in the Nov. 22 shooting death of Jamekia Robinson.

Ms. Robinson, 33, was one of several witnesses who testified in the trial of Leslie Mollet, who was convicted of killing Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Joseph R. Pokorny in 2005.

Ms. Robinson was walking inside her home on Frederick Street about 9 p.m. on Nov. 22 carrying a grocery bag when a man with a dark hoodie covering his face walked into the middle of the street and pulled out a silver revolver, one witness testified.

Officials asked reporters not to name the witnesses who testified Friday out of concern for their safety.

The first witness said he heard four or five shots and saw a muzzle flash. He said the perpetrator “took off” and ran down the road and appeared to turn onto Jonquil Street.

The second witness, a woman, said she was walking her dog in a nearby cemetery and, “I heard what sounded like four shots.”

She said she paused for a few seconds, trying to determine whether the noises she heard were actually gunshots or fireworks from Light Up Night.

Then, she saw a man walking quickly near the intersections of Rahe and Jonquil streets. The woman said she heard a noise and noticed that the man was vomiting.

Allegheny County homicide Detective Patrick Kinavey testified Friday that police collected saliva samples from the piles of vomit and sent them for testing. They learned recently that the samples matched a DNA sample taken from Mr. Pryor and uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System, a national database, the detective said.

After they learned that the sample was a match, detectives interviewed Mr. Pryor. Detective Kinavey testified that Mr. Pryor told police he did not know the victim and did not spend time in Mount Oliver.

Defense attorney Lisa Phillips asked the judge to throw out the charges, noting that the DNA evidence was collected near the crime scene, not at it. “This case is extremely circumstantial, and I think so circumstantial that it can’t meet its burden,” she said.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Chernosky said, “People use that term circumstantial like it’s a bad thing,” but asked the judge to hold Mr. Pryor for trial, noting that officials presented a “very tight timeline” in the case supporting charges against Mr. Pryor.

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.

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