Two men were arrested Wednesday in the slaying of a pregnant Ambridge teenager who was described by authorities as an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of a violent drug feud.
Tyrone Fuller, 31, of McKeesport and Marlin Kelly, 27, are charged with robbery and two counts of homicide in the death of 19-year-old Conekia Finney. The young woman, who was seven months pregnant with a baby girl she planned to name Zekiah, was shot at point-blank range in the chest as she opened her front door Sunday evening.
Kelly, who's been wanted by authorities since he walked out of a Downtown alternative jail last year, was tracked to a home in Turtle Creek, where he was apprehended by U.S. marshals and taken to the Allegheny County Jail.
Fuller, a convicted felon who is awaiting trial on a gun charge in Allegheny County, was apprehended by U.S. marshals at a home in Monessen and was taken to the Westmoreland County Jail. Both men were awaiting transportation to Beaver County, where they were scheduled to be arraigned.
Sgt. James Mann, acting chief of the Ambridge Police Department, said the arrests come after three days of exhaustive police work, which he and many others spent holed up in headquarters. Authorities declined to elaborate on a motive. Sgt. Mann called it "an unthinkable crime."
Sgt. Mann said he has known the Finney family for as long as he's been on the force in the community of 7,000 residents and has watched Ms. Finney, known affectionately as "Coco," grow up.
"I've known Coco since she was a little girl. And we put a special effort for the Finney family and for Coco and her child," he said.
He also expressed frustration that Kelly, whose criminal record includes victim intimidation, drug possession and gun charges, was allowed to serve a sentence for a gun possession in a community corrections facility, where he was allowed to leave to work at a nearby restaurant. He walked out of the Renewal Center on the Boulevard of the Allies on Christmas Eve of last year, telling staff he was going to work, but never returned.
"That's the penal system," he said. "It's unacceptable."
In a criminal complaint, police said that when Fuller and Kelly showed up to Ms. Finney's Merchant Street apartment, they were likely looking for her boyfriend, Steven Murray. The couple had moved to the apartment with their 3-year-old son, Hezekiah just two days before.
The day before Ms. Finney was shot, Fuller complained to a woman, Dana Camp, that Murray had "been 'stepping' on Fuller's drug business and also 'messing' with Fuller's money," police wrote in the complaint. He and Kelly hinted a plan to rob the man, Ms. Camp told police.
Another man, James Leo, told police he drove Fuller and Murray to the Merchant Street apartment, where Fuller gave him money to purchase a bundle of heroin. Mr. Leo told police he went up to the apartment and bought the drugs and then left and waited nearby.
Moments later, Ms. Finney opened the door to meet her mother Elaine, who had come to pick her up and had blown the car horn to summon her. But when she went to the door, she was met by Fuller and Kelly. Without exchanging any words, one of them shot her in the chest, police said. The pair then ran to Mr. Leo's car, who drove them to Pittsburgh.
Elaine Finney was sitting in her car when she heard the gunfire. She went up to the apartment, where she found her daughter bleeding and lifeless in the kitchen. She and her unborn child were pronounced dead at the scene.
Her mother said Wednesday that news of the arrest brought on a sense of bittersweet relief.
"I'm happy -- even though I lost my child -- I'm happy to know that they're going to pay for what they did," she said.
In the hallway of the municipal building, where her family gathered to meet with police Wednesday, she scooped up Hezekiah in her arms.
"They got them. Oh, they got them," she whispered to him.
Moriah Balingit: email@example.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published October 31, 2012 3:30 PM