Gov. Tom Corbett has signed death warrants authorizing the executions of three men convicted of murder. One of those men killed Philadelphia police officer Lauretha Vaird in 1996.
Christopher Roney was known by the rapper name Cool C and gained some notoriety with the popular song Glamorous Life. He was convicted of first degree murder for the shooting death of Vaird, which happened on Jan. 2, 1996 during a bank robbery. Roney, now 44, along with Warren McGlone, also known as Steady B, and local rapper Ernest Canty, attempted to rob the PNC branch at 4710 Rising Sun Ave. just before 8:30 a.m.
When the assistant manager arrived for work, Canty grabbed her and the branch manager and forced them into the bank at gunpoint. Roney grabbed the head teller when she arrived. Police were notified of the robbery in progress by witnesses at a local business and Vaird, a nine-year veteran, was the first on the scene, according to investigators. Roney fired once, hitting her in the abdomen. Based on eyewitness testimony and identifications, the three men were subsequently arrested. Roney’s accomplices confessed to their participation in the crime.
Roney was originally sentenced to death in 1996. His musical career reached a high point in the late 1980’s when he was a member of the Hilltop Hustlers. In 1988 he recorded singles for City Beat Records, acquired a contract with Atlantic Records and released two solo albums; “I Gotta Habit” in 1989 that included the hit “Glamorous Life” and the second album “Life in the Ghetto” in 1990.
His problems began in 1991 when he hooked up with C.E.B. or Countin’ Endless Bank with local rappers McGlone and DJ Ultimate Eaze. Their only album by the same name, “Countin’ Endless Bank” was not a hit.
Investigators said on Jan. 2, 1996, Roney, McGlone and Canty attempted the armed robbery of a PNC bank branch but the bank’s silent alarm was activated. Vaird was the first responder and as soon as she entered the bank, Roney shot her. When Roney stepped outside, he exchanged gunfire with other responding officers and in the confusion he and Canty dropped their weapons at the scene and the three left in a stolen car. Several eyewitnesses placed him at the scene of the crime and evidence linked him to Vaird’s killing
Roney was arrested on Oct. 30, 1996, tried and convicted of first-degree murder. Gov. Ed Rendell signed his death warrant on Jan. 10, 2006 and he appealed his conviction.
The two other defendants whose names were on the governor’s execution list were Mark Duane Edwards, who was convicted of the first-degree murders of Larry Bobish, his wife Joanna, and their 17-year-old daughter, Krystal Bobish, in 2002. Dennis C. Reed, the third man, was convicted in Lawrence County of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Wendy Miller in 2001.
Corbett has signed 43 execution warrants since taking office.
Gary Heidnik was the last person executed in Pennsylvania, on July 6, 1999. He was convicted of kidnapping, torturing and killing six woman in his Philadelphia home.