Change of venue denied for trial in officer's death

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An Allegheny County judge on Thursday denied a request for a change of venue in the trial of a man accused of killing a Penn Hills police officer three years ago.

Ronald Robinson, 35, is scheduled to go to trial in the capital case on Jan. 3. He is charged with killing Officer Michael Crawshaw while he responded to a 911 call on Johnston Road, where another man was also killed over a drug debt, police have said.

Patrick Thomassey, who is representing Robinson during the penalty phase, filed a motion for a change of venue last week after the county district attorney's office announced that Officer Crawshaw's family 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.

Mr. Thomassey argued that the announcement tainted the jury pool.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski said during a hearing Thursday morning that he agreed that the DA's office should not have made the announcement but that few of the potential jurors had seen the news and that those who had were not selected anyway.

Nine people have been selected to serve on the 16-member jury. Jury selection is scheduled to resume Monday.



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