Jury urges execution in case of bodies found in barrels

Sunday, November 3, 2002

OLATHE, Kan. -- John E. Robinson Sr. should be put to death for killing two women and stuffing their bodies into barrels on his rural property, a jury recommended Saturday.

The decision makes Robinson the fifth man to receive a death sentence recommendation from a Kansas jury since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1994.

Robinson sat rocking in his chair with his hand on his face before the jury returned. He stood but showed little emotion as the verdict was read, the yellow barrels which entombed two of his victims in front of him.

Robinson, 58, was convicted Tuesday in Johnson County District Court for the gruesome murders of Suzette Trouten, 27, of Newport, Mich., and Izabela Lewicka, 21, a former Purdue University student and a Polish immigrant. Both women were killed after being lured to Kansas by Robinson to engage in sadomasochistic sexual relations.

Attorneys in the case remain under a gag order and could not immediately comment.

The announcement of the verdict was delayed five hours after a male juror brought a Bible from his hotel into deliberations.

Jurors had reached a unanimous vote to start the day's deliberations, although it was not known which way they had voted. After that vote, the juror who had brought the Bible to deliberations discussed what he had gleaned from it the night before.

After jurors were individually asked about the incident, Robinson's attorneys asked for a mistrial of the penalty phase because of potential influence on the verdict caused by the juror's comments about the Bible. The motion was denied. The recommendation for death was returned 30 minutes later.

The prosecution of Robinson began with discovery of bodies June 3, 2000, on a 16.5-acre farm he owns in Linn County, 60 miles south of Kansas City. Two days later, three more bodies were discovered in barrels in a storage locker rented by Robinson in Raymore, Mo.

With the Kansas trial complete, Robinson is expected to stand trial for the Missouri deaths as early as the spring.

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