Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: The Sandwich Shop Murders

The Trial Begins

The trial began in April 1993.

Judge Ronald Coen
Judge Ronald Coen

The case was argued before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen. The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Barshop, opened by laying out the case: he argued that the defendant had decided to rob the sandwich shop and execute the young men inside, because "dead men tell no tales." Robinson was in desperate need of money and had become obsessed with guns. He had purchased a handgun and taken up target shooting, becoming enamored with the power it brought him. He had discussed robbing the store on several occasions prior to the shooting, knew about the safe from prior employment, knew there was no surveillance camera, had been dismissed for suspicion of theft, and was heard by roommates loading and preparing his gun before he left the apartment that night. He returned with a lot of cash, whereas he'd had none just hours before, and had even rented an apartment twelve hours after the robbery. He also bragged to a co-worker and another companion that he had committed the double homicide. His attitude was hardly one of remorse. In addition, physical evidence placed him at the scene and his gun was the weapon used. He had also lied several times in his statements to police.

Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Barshop
Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Barshop

Robinson's attorney, Bruce Hill, declined to make an opening statement.

The eyewitness to the robbery and the customer who found the bodies testified first. By this time, Rebecca had identified Robinson as similar in height and build to the man she had seen, although he now wore glasses and she had not seen any on his face that night. He was also thinner than she recalled, but several acquaintances said he had lost weight.

Then Karen and Jackson testified about Robinson's numerous pre-incident comments about robbing the shop. On the night they told him he would have to leave, they heard him load his gun and then the incident occurred.

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