Prosecutors seek gag order in Michael Rosfeld trial
Prosecutors in the Antwon Rose II homicide case want to silence attorneys and witnesses from talking to the media in the months leading up to the trial.
Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Daniel Fitzsimmons last week filed a motion seeking to place a gag order on all involved in the case.
Rosfeld, an East Pittsburgh police officer, faces one charge of homicide in the June 19 death of 17-year-old Rose, who was shot and killed as he ran, unarmed, from a felony traffic stop.
The filing came one day after a pre-trial conference hearing before Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani after which Patrick Thomassey, Rosfeld’s attorney, addressed the media.
“At various times … counsel for the defendant has made extrajudicial statements to members of the print, radio and television media that would tend to prejudice the trial process …” Fitzsimmons wrote in the motion.
Chief among the statements were those in which Thomassey alleged that prosecutors were “trying to hide something.”
The prosecution’s motion called the statements ironic, as Thomassey had shortly before announced his intention to file for a change of venire – to bring in an outside jury – “based upon the claim that media coverage has prejudiced the trial process.”
The gag order would apply to attorneys on both sides of the case, witnesses and anyone “assisting or associated with” the trial.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Rose was a passenger in a car suspected in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier on June 19 in nearby North Braddock. Police say the car had gunshot damage to its rear window, likely from the earlier shooting. As Rosfeld ordered the jitney driver to the ground, Rose and backseat passenger Zaijuan Hester fled on foot, authorities said.
Rosfeld fired, hitting Rose three times. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. has said Hester was the shooter in the earlier drive-by shooting, and a grand jury indicted him last month on charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
Thomassey last week indicated he plans to ask that Hester be granted immunity in exchange for testimony.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.