Jurors return next week for federal trial in witness slaying
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jurors in western Pennsylvania resume deliberations next week in the federal trial of man accused of killing a woman more than four years ago to keep her from talking to them about his New Jersey-supplied heroin ring.
Jurors deliberated for about a half-hour Friday and are to return Tuesday to consider the case against Price Montgomery in the August 2014 shooting death of 34-year-old Tina Crawford and the wounding of her 63-year-old mother in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Wiretapped calls played for jurors indicate that the defendant and victim talked regularly and traveled to Newark, New Jersey, where agents allege they bought heroin from his supplier.
Prosecutors said that shortly before the killing, the defendant visited the younger woman to warn her against cooperating, and a shaken Crawford moved in with her mother. She died in a hail of bullets inside the garage of her mother’s home about an hour before she was to meet with federal prosecutors about the drug operation, authorities said.
“This is an execution,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaun Sweeney told jurors Friday. “This is not a drive-by.”
Defense attorney Jay McCamic said other people had motive to kill the victim and no physical evidence links Montgomery to the scene other than a cellphone that he suggested may have been planted. Drug rings pass cellphones around, and since federal agents recovered some 80 phones in the case, finding one at the scene that his client had used “doesn’t mean he’s carrying it” during the murder, McCamic said.
In addition to being accused of killing Crawford, Montgomery is facing gun and drug charges.
Prosecutors allege that James Perrin was Montgomery’s “right-hand man” in the drug ring. Perrin also has gun and drug charges, but he isn’t charged in the murder. His attorney, Michael DeRiso, suggested that Perrin is guilty only of associating with Montgomery.
“There’s a lot of stupid stuff James Perrin did,” he said, “but he’s not a drug dealer.”
Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, http://www.post-gazette.com