Prosecutor says convicted murderer 'manifests true evil'
A man convicted of the 1996 murder of four people in Poland “manifests true evil” and deserves the death sentence he was given, a Rapides Parish prosecutor states in a brief filed last week.
The 44-page brief filed in 9th Judicial District Court on Oct. 31 disputes Darrell James Robinson’s claims of ineffective defense counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, purchased testimony and outright innocence of the multiple murders.
In 2001 Robinson was convicted and sentenced to die for the shooting deaths of Billy Lambert, Carol Hooper (Lambert’s sister), Maureen Kelly (Hooper's daughter) and Kelly’s infant son Nicholas Kelly.
The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction and was sentenced in 2004.
Judge Patricia Koch presided over an extensive hearing in July 2018 that explored Robinson’s arguments in his attempt to have the sentence and conviction overturned.
Robinson was living and working at Lambert’s cattle farm in Poland at the time of the crime.
Robinson’s post-conviction appeals attorneys have claimed the original defense attorney, Mike Small, provided ineffective counsel.
Small is generally regarded as one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the state.
LEGAL ‘DREAM TEAM’
Rapides Parish Special Prosecutor Hugo Holland said in his brief that the defense attorneys did an “exemplary job” and called Small and Dannalyn Recer, the other defense attorney, a “proverbial legal ‘dream team.’”
Holland noted that a defendant claiming ineffective counsel “must show that counsel’s representation fell beneath an objective standard of reasonableness.”
He contends that was not shown in this case.
Robinson “was convicted and sentenced to death for these crimes not because of his attorneys, but despite them,” Holland wrote.
He said Robinson was sentenced to death because he killed four people, including an infant, which qualifies as a capital offense under state law.
“Rarely is a case as appropriate for the death penalty as this one,” Holland wrote. “The only explanation for murdering the infant is that Robinson manifests true evil.”
Holland said prosecutor Mike Shannon would not have withheld evidence from defense attorneys and Small would have “vociferously objected” if he had and it was later discovered.
“Mr. Shannon was understandably outraged at being falsely accused of hiding any evidence, which he vehemently denied,” Holland wrote.
Holland noted in the brief that Shannon gave sworn testimony that he did not offer “jailhouse snitch” Leroy Goodspeed anything in exchange for his testimony against Robinson at trial and Robinson’s attorneys have provided “not one scintilla of evidence suggests the contrary to be true.”
Concerning the allegation at the hearing that someone else killed the victims, Holland wrote nothing presented in the hearing “negated the settled words of the Louisiana Supreme Court regarding Robinson’s guilt.”
Robinson’s attorneys also filed an initial 146-page brief outlining their position in the appeal. A separate article is written on that filing.
Responses by both parties are due by Nov. 20.
Koch will issue a ruling after reviewing all briefs and responses.