Suspect in Penn Hills officer's killing sought alibi, texts show

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Less than an hour after he shot and killed a Penn Hills police officer, Ronald Robinson sent a text message to his girlfriend trying to establish an alibi.

"I can't talk right now. I was with you all day today. For real," he wrote to Kashawna Jackson.

The message was sent at 9:16 p.m. Dec. 6, 2009.

Just 51 minutes earlier, Officer Michael Crawshaw was killed as he responded to a 911 call at 201 Johnston Road. Also killed inside the residence was Danyal Morton, who owed Robinson cash for crack cocaine.

Robinson gave police a confession and his defense attorney, Veronica Brestensky, conceded in opening statements that her client shot both men.

She believes Robinson should be found guilty of second-degree murder -- killing someone in the commission of another felony -- and not first-degree murder, which could carry a death sentence.

Robinson told friends that Morton owed him $500 for crack cocaine.

On Tuesday -- the fourth day of Robinson's trial -- Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli went over Robinson's cell phone records, including his incoming and outgoing calls and text messages from the day of the shootings.

It took a number of attempts by Robinson to make Ms. Jackson understand what he was trying to say.

To the first message, she replied, "LOL. You wasn't with me all day. Guess that was meant for someone else."

Robinson replied, "No. For real. I WAS WITH YOU."

After several more messages back and forth, Robinson wrote "I did something. Watch the news."

Then he added, "And delete the texts."

Ms. Jackson, who is charged in the case with hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence, was called to testify against Robinson on Tuesday, but her testimony was halted while Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski sent for her lawyer.

After speaking with her defense attorney, Lee Rothman, Ms. Jackson is expected to retake the stand today.

Mr. Tranquilli said he would not be giving Ms. Jackson immunity for her testimony, but that there is an offer to reduce the felony charge against her to a misdemeanor.

Earlier in the day, Robinson's cousin, Ramond Nelson, 37, told the jury that Robinson confessed to the shooting when he first got home that evening.

"He said that him and a guy got into it over $500," Mr. Nelson testified. "He said that he was going to the house to try to get his money from the guy, and he shot the guy.

"He said he went outside. The cop was out there. He shot the cop."

Mr. Nelson, who was visibly upset on the stand, said Robinson didn't explain why.

"What did you say to him?" Mr. Tranquilli asked.

"Why would you do something stupid like that? You want to spend the rest of your life in jail?"

At some point after his interaction with Mr. Nelson, Robinson called a phone sex chat line and had the person he spoke with meet him at his home on Wheeler Street in Homewood.

Thomas Jones, who is transgender and goes by the name Taliyah, testified that Robinson asked her for sex but she refused him. He did provide her with marijuana that she smoked.

Police officers arrived to arrest Robinson while she was still in his bedroom.

On the stand, Taliyah was uncooperative with Mr. Tranquilli. According to the statement she provided to police a few hours after the shooting, Robinson told her that night that he was running from the police and got home just after 10 p.m. She refused to repeat that information on the stand.


Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620. First Published January 9, 2013 5:00 AM


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