Phoenixville woman held for trial in slaying

Monique Robinson is accused ofmurder.
Monique Robinson is accused ofmurder.
Posted: January 13, 2012

The plan to set up a drug dealer for robbery went awry when he failed to answer his phone, so three drug users seeking money had to find another victim in Phoenixville, according to testimony Thursday in district court.

During a preliminary hearing on murder charges against defendant Monique Robinson, testimony centered on how Selvin Lopez-Mauricio, a 22-year-old Guatemalan native who had just returned home from his fast-food job at 12:40 a.m. Sept. 14, became that victim.

He was shot when the trio took his backpack and he ran after them to retrieve it. The backpack contained his uncashed paycheck but no cash.

After nearly two hours of testimony, District Judge Susann E. Welsh ruled that the case against Robinson, 18, of Phoenixville, should advance to Chester County Court.

Robninson's codefendants, Saleem D. Williams, 20, of Sharon Hill, and Stephen A. Reidler, 23, of Linfield, have been in custody since Sept. 21, but Robinson evaded authorities for three months, police said. As a result, Assistant District Attorney Peter Hobart added flight to avoid apprehension to Robinson's charges, which include homicide and robbery.

Through her attorney, Robert J. Donatoni, Robinson, wearing a navy Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie and teal sweatpants, entered a not-guilty plea. A handful of supporters, including her aunt, attended the hearing.

Representing the victim's family was Jose Parra, a volunteer community representative for Phoenixville's Hispanic population of more than 500 residents. "We just want to make sure justice is served," he said.

Hobart presented four witnesses: three police officers and Caitlin Schierenbeck, a 19-year-old woman linked romantically to Williams. She is also Reidler's cousin.

The testimony of Schierenbeck - compelled by subpoena - was punctuated with tears, and at one point the judge called a recess so the young woman could regain her composure.

She testified that all three defendants were at her Phoenixville apartment the evening before the killing, hatching a "mission" to get money for more drugs. When they could not connect with the drug dealer, they left about midnight to find someone else; she said Robinson had brought a gun, which she handed to Williams.

Schierenbeck testified that she fell asleep and was awakened about 1 a.m. by the trio after they returned with Lopez-Mauricio's backpack, which contained an ID, a paycheck, and a Wendy's hat and shirt. She said she told Williams he could not keep the backpack in her apartment, and it disappeared within a couple of days. Police have not recovered it.

Phoenixville Sgt. Joseph Nemic, the lead detective, testified that Williams and Reidler both confessed to their roles in killing Lopez-Mauricio after he tried to retrieve his backpack, and both implicated Robinson. Nemic said he went to Phoenixville High to talk with her, but she had gone to the nurse's office and was unavailable. Then she vanished, he testified.


Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-696-3815, kbrady@phillynews.com, or @brandywinebits on Twitter. Read her blog, "Chester County Inbox," at www.philly.com/chescoinbox

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