Gov. Tom Corbett last week signed an execution warrant for Borgela Philistin, who was convicted in the 1993 murder of Philadelphia police officer Robert Hayes of Rhawnhurst.
Corbett also signed an execution warrant for Michael J. Travaglia, the man convicted in the 1980 murder of police officer Leonard Clifford Miller of Apollo in Westmoreland County.
Philistin, now 39, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Hayes and aggravated assault in the shooting of Hayes’ partner John Marynowitz. Philistin and Travaglia are incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greene, in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Philistin is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 23. Travaglia’s date with death is two days later.
Philistin was sentenced to death in February 1995.
In September 2002, Gov. Mark Schweiker signed an execution warrant for Philistin, but a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge issued a stay.
Around 10 p.m. on June 16, 1993, Hayes and Marynowitz, assigned to the 35th Police District, made what they thought was a routine stop of a gypsy cab with a defective taillight at the intersection of Limekiln Pike and Andrews Avenue in West Oak Lane.
Marynowitz approached the driver’s side, while Hayes walked to the passenger’s side, where Philistin was seated. The officers saw drugs in the vehicle.
Hayes asked Philistin, then a 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Haiti, to lift his hands and to get out of the car. Philistin pushed open the car door, knocking Hayes off balance. He began fighting with the officer.
Marynowitz radioed for backup and began assisting his partner. Philistin took Marynowitz’s gun, fired several shots and fled. Other officers captured Philistin and returned him to the scene, where a witness identified him.
Marynowitz was shot in the head and shoulder and survived, but suffered serious injuries and remains in a wheelchair.
Hayes, who was shot in the eye and stomach, died the next morning.
A decorated Vietnam War veteran, he was survived by his wife Jo-Ann and three sons.
The Robert S. Hayes Memorial Playground, at 9800 Roosevelt Blvd., is named in his memory. A plaque in his memory is in the sidewalk at Limekiln and Andrews.
Corbett has signed 26 execution warrants since taking office in 2011.
A Pennsylvanian has not been executed since Gary Heidnik in 1999. ••