Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Robinson: Adolescent Serial Killer

The Trial

Harvey Miguel Robinson
Harvey Miguel Robinson

Robinson was assigned a public defender, Carmen Marinelli, and on July 24, Marinelli requested three separate trials for the three murder cases.  (The trial for the rape and attempted murder of the little girl would be a separate proceeding.)  Marinelli also wanted a change of venue, due to the amount of publicity the case had generated in the Lehigh Valley, where Allentown was located.  Yet Steinberg hoped for a single trial, and he demonstrated the strong similarities in the three cases, with DNA links to Robinson.  He called F.B.I. analyst Stephen Etter to explain the indicators known to experts that the murders were the work of a sexually motivated serial killer.  The judge considered both arguments and decided to hold one trial there in Allentown.  James Burke was appointed to join the defense.

The prosecution lined up fifty witnesses to prove Robinson's participation in all three murders, but the defense had not yet offered its strategy.  Based on pretrial notices, Marinelli and Burke might choose one of several arguments: that Robinson had not committed these murders, that the DNA testing was not reliable, or that Robinson was not guilty by reason of insanity.  However, a psychiatrist's report from interviews with Robinson indicated that he was competent to stand trial and had no evidence of a mental illness.  Still, the defense had not yet offered their own expert's report.

Along with blood and semen evidence against Robinson, there had also been a sneaker impression on the face of one victim that was similar to sneakers that he'd worn.  In addition, the strands of pubic and head hair found on Charlotte Schmoyer were linked microscopically to Robinson.  At this trial, Denise Sam-Cali was a witness, letting the jury know in a determined voice that Robinson was the man who had raped and assaulted her.  He did not speak on his own behalf, despite his own attorneys' request to do so. 

The proceeding lasted three weeks, and on November 8, 1994, Harvey Miguel Robinson was convicted of the rapes and murders of Burghardt, Schmoyer, and Fortney.  The jury was then sequestered in order to avoid outside pressure as they listened to evidence about how the defendant should be sentenced.  His life was on the line.


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