Attorney- Someone else confessed to 2000 murder

Saturday, November 6, 2004

BENTON, Mo. -- The attorney for a man serving a life sentence for the 2000 murder of a Sikeston woman is arguing that someone else has confessed to the crime.

Both sides argued their cases Friday in Scott County.

Public defender Carl Hinkebein of Columbia, Mo., introduced 30 exhibits including depositions, photographs, diagrams and recorded and transcribed testimony to prove his assertion that David Lee Robinson of Sikeston was wrongly convicted and that another man, whose name was not entered into the record and is currently in prison for another crime, confessed to killing Shelia Box in August 2000.

Robinson is currently serving a life sentence without parole, after a jury found him guilty Sept. 5, 2001.

Upon the objection of Stephanie Morrell of the attorney general's office, Presiding Circuit Judge David Dolan disallowed 14 of Hinkebein's documents. Morrell claimed the documents were hearsay and inadmissible.

One of Hinkebein's witnesses, Albert Baker of Sikeston, denied on the witness stand that he told Hinkebein's investigator, Butch Johnson, that Robinson did not shoot Box. He also denied telling Johnson that he lied at Robinson's trial and that he knew who actually killed the woman.

Under cross-examination by Liz Bock of the attorney general's office, Baker claimed that he feared retribution from Robinson's family and associates, and did not want to testify in Friday's hearing. Baker said when he declined to talk to Johnson, the investigator subpoenaed him to force a meeting.

Bock objected to that tactic, reminding Dolan it is against the law and "it is an abuse of the system to tell a witness he has to meet with him and to use subpoena power to do that," Bock said.

Baker also turned over to the court a letter Johnson sent to him allegedly threatening him about his testimony, saying that the judge would be angry if Baker stuck with his original story he testified to during Robinson's trial.

Johnson had been included among Hinkebein's seven witnesses. Not only did Bock and Morrell object to his being called, Dolan also cautioned Hinkebein that he would be sanctioned if Johnson were allowed to testify.

Court recessed while Hinkebein and his associate read Johnson's letter and then conferred privately with the investigator. Johnson did not testify.

In 2000, Baker told Sikeston detective John Blakely that he saw Robinson walk up to the driver's side of the vehicle that Box was driving and shoot once through the driver's side window.

Dolan gave both sides 30 days to submit their findings to him. He said will take the matter up again in court in January.

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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