Prosecutors in the case against Michael Rosfeld argued Thursday that it is irrelevant whether Antwon Rose II was in a car with a stolen gun or had ammunition in his pocket when he was shot and killed by then-Officer Michael Rosfeld last year.
None of that should have any bearing the case, argued Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Daniel Fitzsimmons, because Rosfeld should be judged based on what he knew when he pulled the trigger.
Rosfeld’s attorney, Patrick Thomassey said the information that prosecutors want to exclude is absolutely relevant, including, he said, that Rose had gunshot residue on his hands and $315 in his pocket.
“They don’t want to let us try this case,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
The Chevy Cruze in which Rose, 17, was riding on June 19 did have two stolen guns inside: A 9mm Glock pistol, which was reported stolen the next day, and a .40 caliber Glock pistol reported stolen in 2016.
The .40 caliber Glock was the one used in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier in North Braddock, scientists found, and the magazine in Rose’s pocket when he was gunned down would fit a 9mm.
The guns in the car, the magazine in Rose’s pocket – Fitzsimmons said that is information that “without a doubt (Rosfeld) could not possibly know at the time” of the shooting. Thus, he said, it is not relevant and not admissible in court.
Rose was a passenger in a car suspected in a drive-by shooting in North Braddock minutes before the deadly shooting in East Pittsburgh. As Rosfeld ordered the driver to the ground, Rose and backseat passenger, Zaijuan Hester, ran from the car. Rosfeld opened fire, authorities said.
Rosfeld faces one count of homicide. Thomassey argued that no decision regarding evidence should be made until the discovery process is complete. Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket said he didn’t plan to rule one way or another until closer to trial.
Fitzsimmons wrote in his motion to exclude that evidence that it would “unfairly impugn the character of the victim,” concluding that “such material may play to emotions and judgments in the court of public opinion, but it has no place in a court of law …”
Jury selection in Rosfeld’s trial is set to being March 12 in Dauphin County. Bicket ruled last week in favor of Thomassey’s motion for a change of venire, and the state Supreme Court decided Tuesday that jurors would be selected from Dauphin.
The selection will take place from a pool of 500 jurors. The trial is set to begin March 19.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.