Gov. Corbett on Friday signed an execution warrant for the man convicted of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Lauretha Vaird in a 1996 bank robbery.
Christopher Roney’s execution date was set for Jan. 8 – almost exactly 19 years to the day since Vaird was shot while responding to a robbery at a PNC Bank in Feltonville.
The death warrant is Corbett’s 41st signed since he assumed office. The governor also signed warrants for two other men, according to a statement from his office.
Roney, 44, was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery in the early morning holdup of the PNC Bank at 4710 Rising Sun Ave. on Jan. 2, 1996. Vaird, a nine-year veteran of the force and a single mother of two sons, was the first officer on the scene. The 43-year-old officer was fatally shot once in the abdomen as she walked into the bank.
Eyewitness statements and identifications led to Roney’s arrest and subsequent charges, according to a statement from the governor’s office. Two other men were convicted of second-degree murder in the case.
Roney – a Philadelphia man who before his arrest was a fairly well-known local rapper known as “Cool C” – has maintained he’s innocent.
At his trial, he and his mother testified that he had been at home cooking breakfast at the time of the robbery. And he has appealed his conviction and his sentence. The state Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 2005 and former Gov. Ed Rendell signed an execution warrant the following year.
Vaird’s death shocked the city and the 25th District, where she was a well-liked officer. She was the first female officer in Philadelphia to be killed in the line of duty.
Her oldest son, Michael Caesar, has said in interviews that her death has devastated his family.
“Hurry up and lay him on the table,” he said at a 2009 post-conviction hearing for Roney, who is being held at Southwestern Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution at Greene.