Judge to allow cocaine dealer to view daughter's body at Pittsburgh courthouse

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A Stanton Heights man whose daughter died in a weekend car crash days before the father's guilty plea on federal cocaine dealing charges will get to say goodbye to her privately in an unusual courthouse bereavement arrangement.

Ronnie Lubron Steave, 39, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and possession of the drug. He was promptly transported to the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center to await sentencing.

Steave's daughter, Mysharri Millender, 17, died Sunday in a Beechview car crash, along with 18-year-old Kahdejah Cammon-Perkins.

Steave's attorney, Kenneth Haber, filed a motion Wednesday asking that the father be transported to Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, or furloughed, to attend a visitation.

Federal prosecutors noted that Steave is considered a flight risk and a danger to the community and likely faces a sentence of 15 years in prison. Assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan Ortiz wrote in a court filing that a trip to the church would not only pose "high economic costs" but also "significant safety concerns."

Federal marshals indicated that they have a general policy against transporting defendants to funerals, though they have done so in the past when judges have ordered it.

U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab on Thursday ordered a compromise solution: The daughter's body will be brought to the U.S. Courthouse, Downtown, for a private viewing for only Steave, his attorney and marshals. The Steave family will pay the cost.

U.S. Marshal Steven Frank said the arrangement appears to be a first for Pittsburgh's federal court, adding that his office researched practices in other districts and found precedent for in-courthouse viewings.

"In this case it’s a defendant whose daughter passed away in a tragic car accident," Mr. Frank said. "We have suggested [a courthouse viewing] based on what they’ve done in other districts to maximize security.”

He said the arrangements have not yet been finalized.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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