Robinson sentenced to two life terms in Crawshaw case

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A judge sentenced Ronald Robinson to two consecutive life terms with no possibility of parole after an Allegheny County jury this afternoon found him guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of a man over a drug debt and guilty of second-degree murder for the slaying of a Penn Hills police officer who arrived shortly afterward.

After deliberating more than five hours on Monday, the panel of seven women and five men returned to the jury room of Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski at 9 a.m. today for five more hours before reaching a verdict.

The jury convicted Robinson of killing Danyal Morton, who lived at 201 Johnston Road, just after 8 p.m. Dec. 6, 2009. Officer Michael Crawshaw was killed after he pulled up in his police car.

Robinson confessed to killing both men. His attorney argued during closings Monday that her client was guilty of second-degree murder -- killing someone during the commission of a separate felony -- but not first-degree murder, which requires premeditation and a specific intent to kill.

Although the case could have gone to penalty phase, in which the jury would have determined whether Robinson should be sentenced to death for the first-degree conviction, Morton's family waived that proceeding. That meant the judge could go straight to sentencing Robinson.

Robinson had no comment when he was given a chance to speak in court.

The judge heard an impact statement on Officer Crawshaw's death from his mother, Linda, before issuing his sentence.

Monday afternoon, the jurors asked twice to listen to the 911 call made by Morton, and they also asked whether they could have the assault rifle in the room with them.

Both requests were granted.

They did not return with any questions today.

The case against Robinson began Jan. 3.

Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli called about three dozen witnesses.

Defense attorney Veronica Brestensky called no witnesses. She argued to the jury that she believed Robinson should be found guilty of second-degree murder.

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Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620. First Published January 15, 2013 5:30 AM


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