A lawyer representing the man accused of killing a Penn Hills police officer three years ago has asked for a change of venue, accusing the prosecution of tainting the jury pool.
Jury selection in the capital case against Ronald Robinson began Nov. 26, and as of this afternoon, only eight people had been chosen out of 16.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney's office announced that the family of slain Officer Michael Crawshaw had rejected a plea deal that would have had Robinson pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for two prison terms of life with no possibility of parole.
Patrick Thomassey, who is representing Robinson during the penalty phase of the case, filed a motion for a change of venue with Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski saying that most major news outlets in Pittsburgh ran stories on the rejected plea offer.
"Under these circumstances, with the jury pool tainted by the District Attorney's press release of Nov. 29, defendant cannot get a fair trial in Allegheny County," Mr. Thomassey wrote.
By announcing that his client was willing to plead guilty, Mr. Thomassey said, the prosecution made it impossible to guarantee him a fair and impartial jury.
If the judge refuses to move the trial to an alternate county, Mr. Thomassey asked that he consider bringing jurors in from elsewhere.
Mike Manko, a spokesman for the DA's office, had no comment.
The trial is now scheduled to begin on Jan. 3.
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com or 412-263-2620.