Arrest made in art student's killing


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A student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh was killed early Sunday when, investigators said, a deal involving the trade of his iPad for heroin went bad.

Allegheny County police have arrested Taivon Lamont Cunningham, 19, of Beltzhoover, and charged him with homicide, robbery and conspiracy.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Malachi Urbini, 20, went to McKees Rocks about 3:30 a.m. Sunday to meet with a man named "Tay," to trade his iPod for four stamp bags of heroin.

The affidavit, which includes information from an unnamed witness who went with Mr. Urbini, alleges that after making the first deal, the man showed "Tay," his iPad II, as well. At first, the witness told police, Mr. Urbini said he wanted $600 for it.

However, after about an hour, "Tay" called Mr. Urbini's cell phone, and the two negotiated a deal, the witness said: the iPad for 20 bags of heroin.

Mr. Urbini agreed to meet with Tay to make the deal. He walked down Third Street at Derby Alley, when, the witness said, shots were fired.

Mr. Urbini started running, the affidavit said, and two more shots were fired.

The witness called police, and Mr. Urbini was pronounced dead at Allegheny General Hospital less than an hour later. The medical examiner's office said he died of gunshot wounds to the trunk.

The witness was able to pick Mr. Cunninham's picture out of a photo array, the affidavit said.

Mr. Cunningham was wanted on a bench warrant issued April 27 related to felony drug sale charges and filed against him by the Allegheny County Police.

According to Mr. Urbini's friends, he just enrolled in the graphic design program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh last month. He also worked as a bar back at Club Diesel on the South Side.

He dreamed of being a professional artist and taking his vibrant abstract paintings and sculptures to shows.

Friends were shocked by news of his death and described him as friendly and humorous.

Matt Bellay, 21, of Moon has known Mr. Urbini since the two attended David E. Williams Middle School in Coroapolis.

"He was a really outgoing kid. He wouldn't hurt a fly," he said.

Friends said Mr. Urbini had a range of interests, from art to BMX bikes to world travel. He spent part of his upbringing in Amsterdam with his father, Main Urbini, who moved there after divorcing his mother, and was fluent in Dutch.

He returned to the Pittsburgh area to live with his mother, Pamela Seybold, in 2007, according to court records, and went to Montour High School.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2533.


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