PITTSBURGH — A man has been acquitted of the murder of an elderly Pittsburgh funeral home operator who was beaten to death and set on fire last year.
Jurors deliberated for most of Friday afternoon before acquitting acquitted Jawwaad Ali of first- and third-degree murder in the June 2016 death of 83-year-old John Connors, whose burning body was found in a home in the city’s Allentown neighborhood.
Authorities said Ali, 26, who had been staying in the home, initially told police he woke up smelling smoke and found Connors afire but then changed his story to say an armed man forced his way into the house, beat Connors and forced Ali to pour kerosene on Connors and set him afire, police said. Finally, he contended that Connors went after him with a screwdriver, so Ali beat Connors and then set his body on fire because he knew somebody was coming by soon to take Connors to the bank, police said =.
Defense attorney Randall McKinney said police had the wrong man and his client told different stories because he was telling investigators what they wanted to hear. He suggested that Ali’s first story — that he awoke to the smell of smoke and then found Connors on fire — was true.
McKinney also suggested that another man who was there that day was responsible. “All we know is that when all hell is breaking loose” at the address “he strolls in the door,” McKinney said.
Fleming called that just one more story from what she called a “desperate” defense. And to McKinney’s implying that the confession wasn’t recorded so his client could be pressured into a false confession, she said Ali declined to be recorded “and once he said that, detectives were not able to record it.”