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Neighbors testify at Overbrook roommate slaying trial

Neighbors and roommates were called to testify Wednesday in the trial of Renaldo Robichaw, 56, charged with murder for the death of roommate Albert Smith, 48.

The home on the 1600 block of N. 60th Street in Overbrook where Albert Smith, 48, was killed in January 2013. Credit: Google Maps The home on the 1600 block of N. 60th Street in Overbrook where Albert Smith, 48, was killed in January 2013. Credit: Google Maps

Neighbors and roommates were called to testify Wednesday in the trial of Renaldo Robichaw, 56, charged with murder for the death of roommate Albert Smith, 48.

Robichaw allegedly stabbed Smith to death on Jan. 28, 2013 during an argument inside the Overbrook apartment the two men shared.

Prosecutor Lorraine Donnelly is arguing that Robichaw murdered Smith after an argument.

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But defense lawyer Jim Berardinelli is arguing there was no malice.

"My client was not the aggressor in this case. The decedent in this case was intoxicated, he went in my client's room, he was getting in his face. This was not an intentional act, he was just trying to keep the guy at bay," Berardinelli said, pointing out that while Smith was 5'11" and weighed 198 pounds at the time of his death, Robichaw is 5'5" and about 130 pounds.

A mother and daughter who lived in the rowhouse next door on the 1600 block of North 60th street testified separately at Robichaw's waiver trial that both they heard screaming and thumping on the night of Jan. 28.

Neighbor Ann McDonald testified that she heard Robichaw, who she knew by the nick-name "Squeaky," shout, "Y'all gonna leave me the f--- alone or they gonna find you dead in here."

Meanwhile, a third roommate, Kevin Parker, testified that Robichaw and Smith were arguing the night of the murder. He said he heard Robichaw call 911, then cancel the call. Parker left that night without seeing what had happened, and didn't return until Wednesday, he testified.

Parker said when he returned, he suspected something was amiss, so he sought out Robichaw's uncle Timothy Robichaw, who lived a block and a half away, whom he paid for rent in food stamps -- although the house is listed in online property records as a Philadelphia Housing Authority property.

The uncle opened Smith's door and found his body lying there, Parker said. They called police, who arrived as Robichaw was trying to leave on a bicycle and told him not to leave.

Parker said he was detained for three days while being questioned before Robichaw was charged with the slaying.

The trial is expected to conclude on Thursday. In this waiver trial there is no jury and Judge Rosemarie Defino will make the final finding of fact and determine the verdict at the conclusion.

 
 
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