Archive for Sunday, January 26, 2003

Convicted murderer faces another death-penalty trial in Missouri

January 26, 2003


— Finding three missing women who knew convicted killer John E. Robinson Sr. is a priority for the prosecutor handling Robinson's Missouri murder trial.

Cass County prosecutor Chris Koster said he won't even consider dropping the Missouri charges against Robinson, who was sentenced to death in Kansas for the murders of two women. Koster said for legal reasons, he couldn't discuss a possible plea bargain. But he did say: "I am open-minded on the manner in which we end the case."

Robinson, 59, faces capital murder charges in Cass County for the deaths of Beverly Bonner, 49, of Cameron; Sheila Faith, 45; and her paraplegic daughter, Debbie, 16, both formerly of California. Their bodies were found on June 5, 2000, stuffed in barrels in a Raymore storage locker rented by Robinson.

He was sentenced to die Tuesday in Kansas for the deaths of Suzette Trouten, 27, of Michigan, and Izabela Lewicka, 21, a former Purdue University student, whose bodies were found on his rural Linn County property. Both women were killed after being lured to Kansas by Robinson to engage in sadomasochistic sex.

Johnson County Judge John Anderson III also sentenced Robinson to life in prison for the 1985 death of Lisa Stasi, a 19-year-old whose body was never found.

Robinson was transferred from the Johnson County jail Friday to a Kansas prison where he awaits extradition to Missouri. He has not yet been arraigned on the charges in Cass County, where he also faces the death penalty.

Besides Stasi, other missing women who knew Robinson are Catherine Clampitt, who was 27 years old when she moved from Wichita Falls, Tex., to work for Robinson in 1987, and Paula Godfrey of Overland Park, who was 19 and working for Robinson when she disappeared in 1984.

The Kansas death sentence allows Koster to consider something other than making sure Robinson is executed in Missouri.

"I'm able to step back and consequently look at some bigger picture issues in the case," Koster said, "and balance the desires of the victims' families, who want justice, and the concerns of the constituents, who want fiscal responsibility. And I'm also conscious of the big picture issue in that law enforcement still have three missing person investigations that remain open."

Robinson's attorney, Missouri public defender Karen Kraft, said she would expect a death penalty case to be "very expensive," but she understands why he faces another trial.

"It's certainly something that is important to them and to society in general, just in terms of being concerned about victims. But you can only kill him once," she said. "With a death sentence in Kansas, it would not seem to be necessary to have him on death row in Missouri."

Koster acknowledged that some Cass County residents have expressed concern about the costs associated with a death penalty trial but said justice demands the Missouri cases be pursued.

"We're not going to just put them on the shelf and not deal with them," Koster said. "That would just be unprecedented in the legal system."

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