Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Robinson: Adolescent Serial Killer

Plea Deal

D.A. Steinberg told Sam-Cali that Robinson would plead guilty in return for a reduced sentence and no trial.  She initially declined it, but on April 13, Sam-Cali accepted the terms at a two-hour hearing.  Semen samples removed from the victim shortly after she was attacked were matched via DNA analysis to Robinson, and she identified him as her attacker.  In addition, he had a gun in his possession stolen from the house, and Officer Lewis testified that this was the man with whom he'd had a shoot-out in the Cali home.

Robinson said nothing during the hearing, and his attorney called no one to speak on his behalf, although Robinson's mother and half-sister were present.  Nicholls made it clear that the defendant had long been a troubled young man with a difficult life.  Still, he offered no motive for Robinson's attacks, but he did set forth the young man's good qualities: a high IQ that allowed him to get his high school equivalency diploma when he was sixteen (and in juvenile detention) and a supposedly good relationship with a loving mother.

Steinberg told reporters afterward, "He is everything that is evil in society, all rolled up in one person."  Sam-Cali seemed to agree.  She was quoted in the Morning Call as saying, "Put him away for good.  He should die for what he did."  But Nicholls asked for leniency and suggested that Robinson could be rehabilitated.  Steinberg countered this with Robinson's considerable juvenile record and his threats against other prisoners where he was currently detained.  In fact, Robinson had been resistant to rules and aggressive toward others since the first grade, and he'd committed his first juvenile offense, a theft, at the age of nine.  Each time he got out of juvenile detention, he committed more antisocial acts and refused to take advantage of prosocial opportunities.  Given this history and set of behavior patterns, his chances for rehabilitation seemed slim at best.  

Despite Nicholls' argument, Robinson was sentenced to 40 to 80 years in state prison for the rape and assault of Sam-Cali, and for burglarizing her home and shooting at a police officer.  Nicholls then stepped out, leaving it to a public defender to take on the murder cases.  In the meantime, reporters were busy learning more about who this young offender was.


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