By Karen Kane
One of four men charged in the beating death of a Somali cab driver in Pittsburgh waived his right to a preliminary hearing and testified Friday morning against his friends in a two-hour proceeding that ended with all four defendants headed to trial.
Hosea Moore, 20, of Beltzhoover admitted being the first person to assault Ramadhan Mohamed, 31, of Northview Heights, on Feb. 21. Then, he said, his co-defendants joined in.
They “kicked the [expletive] out of him,” Mr. Moore testified at City Court, Downtown, referring to his co-defendants.
Mr. Mohamed died three days later.
An autopsy concluded that Mr. Mohamed died of injuries to his head, neck, trunk and extremities.
Mr. Moore, who had worked an 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift at a local fast food restaurant, described how he and his friends, later that evening, decided to lure someone to their neighborhood so the person could be robbed.
He said the idea came from “D.R.” — a nickname for Daniel Russell, 20, of Arlington Heights.
Mr. Moore had gone to the home of King Edwards, 20, of Beltzhoover, where he was staying along with Mr. Edwards’ mother and grandmother. Mr. Edwards is also charged in the case as are Mr. Russell and Christen Glenn, 19, of McKeesport.
The initial plan was to rob a pizza delivery driver, according to Mr. Moore.
“D.R. suggested we rob a pizza delivery driver, but I thought it was stupid,” Mr. Moore said. The reason: the hour was so late the pizza shops were shutting down or already closed.
That’s when Mr. Russell came up with the alternate plan of calling a cab, which he did, Mr. Moore said.
Mr. Moore said he initially resisted the idea of the robbery but “Somebody told me to quit [complaining]. I just felt that I didn’t want to do it but I did it anyway,” he said.
In fact, he said he initially got a hammer from the kitchen of the home and suggested it be used in the robbery but that someone said, “We’re not trying to kill him.” Mr. Moore said he was thinking the hammer could be used to “knock out” the would-be robbery victim.
In the end, the weapons used were fists and feet, according to Mr. Moore. He testified that the cab driver was summoned to Climax Street, just a minute or two walk away from where the call had been made from the Edwards home on Curtin Street.
Mr. Moore said he was the first to reach the cab, and he punched Mr. Mohamed.
He said Mr. Russell and Mr. Glenn pulled the driver from the vehicle, threw him to the ground and began kicking and beating him. He said Mr. Edwards also “threw a punch, but I don’t know if it hit him.”
As the driver lay moaning on the ground, Mr. Moore said he and Mr. Glenn searched the cab for money or other valuables. They left only with Mr. Mohamed’s cell phone and the key to the cab — but no money, Mr. Moore said.
Back at the Curtin Street home after the assault, Mr. Moore said “D.R. was bragging” about the beating. But, he added, an argument ensued over what to do with the body as well as the cab. “We were arguing about the whole situation,” Mr. Moore testified, including who might be likely to “snitch.”
He said he told Mr. Russell, “I’m not gonna rat.”
Mr. Moore said he moved to the cab to a nearby church in an attempt to hide it.
Pittsburgh police homicide Detective James McGee testified that Mr. Edwards’s mother called police. Mr. Edwards and Mr. Moore were at the house when that call was made, according to Mr. Moore’s attorney, Kevin Abramovitz.
Mr. Moore said he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the assault.
Mr. Russell sought medical attention for his injured right hand the day after the assault, according to Pittsburgh police Detective Garrett Spory.
None of the defense attorneys in court offered an argument for dismissing any of the criminal charges against their clients.
While Mr. Moore waived his right to a hearing, District Judge Armand Martin held the other co-defendants for court. All four are charged with homicide, robbery and conspiracy.
Mr. Abramovitz said there is no deal with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office to reduce the charges against his client. But, he acknowledged, “We’re certainly anticipating a benefit for (my client’s) truthful testimony.”
Assistant District Attorney Ilan Zur said he could not comment on any plea agreements.
During the hearing eight men and women observed from the gallery They were accompanied by a court-appointed victim-witness advocate. All declined comment.
But, following the hearing, Kellie Organ, an activities leader at the Warrington Community Recreation Center in Beltzhoover said she knew each of the defendants. She said she remains “shocked. It’s been very startling.”
Ms. Organ said Mr. Moore and Mr. Edwards have been “good kids” who hold jobs and have helped with community projects.
“I don’t know how something like this happens. I think it’s guilt by association, I guess,” Ms. Organ said.
Mr. Mohamed, who had been driving a taxi for only two weeks prior to the assault, was Somali and a member of the Bantu ethnic minority. His wife and two young children still reside in Kenya.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette