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Archive for Sunday, February 4, 2001

Court date nears in barrel body case

February 4, 2001

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— John E. Robinson is already charged with killing five women whose bodies were discovered in barrels last June and another who has never been found.

On Monday, Kansas prosecutors will begin presenting evidence in a preliminary hearing for the 57-year-old Olathe man.

The hearing in Johnson County District Court involves just three of the killings. He faces prosecution later in Missouri for the others.

The five bodies were discovered last June in an investigation begun after two women who agreed to meet Robinson for sadomasochistic sex complained to police that it went beyond what they had in mind.

Robinson was arrested on sexual assault charges and the subsequent investigation led to two bodies being found on property he owns near LaCygne, Kan., and three others in a storage locker he'd rented in Raymore, Mo.

Judge John Anderson III has set aside up to six days for the hearing, which he delayed twice at the request of defense attorneys who said they needed more time to prepare for it because of some 13,000 pages of documents.

Robinson is being represented by attorneys from the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, headed by Ron Evans.

A defense request to hold the preliminary hearing behind closed doors because of the widespread publicity about the case was denied in August.

In the Johnson County case, Robinson is charged with capital murder in the deaths of Suzette Trouten, 28, of Newport, Mich., and Izabela Lewicka, 21, a Polish immigrant. He is accused of killing Trouten last spring and Lewicka is thought to have died in the fall of 1999.

He is also charged with the first-degree murder of Lisa Stasi, 19, the Kansas City area woman who has never been seen since she and her infant daughter disappeared in 1985.

Robinson is also charged with the aggravated kidnapping of one of the victims, with the aggravated sexual battery of the two women who agreed to meet him for sex after Internet encounters, with felony theft for allegedly taking sex toys from one of those women, and with aggravated interference with parental custody.

The latter charge involves Stasi's daughter, Tiffany, alleging that the 4-month-old child was taken across state lines without consent, then adopted illegally.

The adoptive parents, who live in another Midwestern city with the girl, are Robinson's brother and sister-in-law, who have told investigators they thought the adoption was legal. Documents filed by prosecutors say the brother reported that Robinson told him the baby's mother killed herself.

Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison is expected to call 50 to 60 witnesses at the hearing, which will determine whether there is enough evidence for Robinson to be bound over for trial.

Robinson also is charged in Cass County, Mo., with killing two women and a teen-age girl whose bodies were found in the storage locker.

The three Missouri victims, all of whom disappeared in 1994, were Beverly Bonner, 49, formerly of Cameron, Mo., and Sheila Faith, 45, and her daughter, Debbie Faith, 16, who had just moved to the Kansas City area from Colorado.

If the judge finds probable cause to proceed on the capital murder charges, Morrison must tell Robinson within five days whether he will seek the death sentence.

The Missouri prosecutor, Chris Koster of Cass County, has already said he will seek the death penalty.

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