David Robinson was convicted of first-degree murder in 2001, but it seems that conviction was wrongful. The state said he shot a woman from his hometown in 2000. The victim was killed outside a bar she owned with her fiancée, perhaps over $300 in receipts. Robinson was sentenced to life without parole.
Since then, another man has confessed and witnesses have recanted their testimony. A special master, who is a judge, was appointed to review his conviction and released his opinion last month. He found clear and convincing evidence that David Robinson is “actually innocent of that crime” and recommended the conviction be overturned.
The special master was appointed because a local newspaper published an extensive review of the case. That review called into question the actions of the police detective who charged Robinson.
The special master found compelling evidence that the detective “ignored or suppressed facts” in order to make Robinson appear guilty. Now, the city where the murder occurred has asked the Justice Department to review what happened. The detective has been placed on administrative leave although he denies framing Robinson.
“When I first got arrested they did gunshot residue, DNA, fingerprints,” Robinson told the Associated Press. “It showed I didn’t have any connection to this crime. My whole case was based on fabricated and inflammatory evidence.”
Moreover, Robinson had an alibi. He said he was at a family gathering at the time of the crime, and three relatives testified that he was there.
Unfortunately, Robinson did have a serious criminal record. He committed crimes including drug offenses, burglary and assault starting around age 15. He admits he got into trouble a lot, but says “I didn’t do anything of this magnitude to deserve this treatment.”
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office says there are several “erroneous” findings in the special master’s report. It’s unclear if they will seek to refile the charges if the Missouri Supreme Court overturns the conviction.
Based on the special master’s ruling, David Robinson was wrongfully convicted. His daughter, who was a baby at the time of the trial, is now college-aged. He has missed her entire childhood.
The Missouri Supreme Court hasn’t ruled yet and no specific date for a ruling has been set.
Robinson says that the wrongful conviction has been hard on him. “I’m in a good frame of mind. I’m praying they’ll go along with his recommendation,” he says.