APB Online

May 30, 2000

Daughter Gets 20 Years for Mom's Murder

Woman Disapproved of Girl's Relationship With Drifter

By Lisa Holewa
APB Online

Valessa Robinson, right, with attorney Dee Ann Athan during her trial
TAMPA, Fla. (APBnews.com) -- A teenage girl who helped her boyfriend and friend stab her mother to death was sentenced today to 20 years in prison.

Valessa Robinson, now 17, originally was charged with first-degree murder and faced life in prison in the death of Vicki Robinson, who was slain in her suburban kitchen because her daughter and the boyfriend feared she was trying to keep them apart.

Jurors convicted Valessa Robinson of the lesser charge of third-degree murder last month. Her boyfriend, Adam Davis, earlier was convicted of first-degree murder and sent to Florida's death row.

The teen's sister, Michelle Robinson, asked Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett today to order that Valessa get counseling as part of whatever sentence he passed.

"Because my mom is not here, I feel it is my duty to be her voice," she told the judge during the lengthy sentencing hearing.

"Valessa is getting out of jail. If we sit here and pretend like she is not, and lock her up in a cell with no treatment, what do you think she will be like when she is finally released? Let's start dealing with this now by getting Valessa the treatment she needs immediately."

Five years for auto theft

Her father, Chuck Robinson, asked that the judge sentence the teen to a youth facility, a plea that was rejected.

"She has no coping mechanism to go into an adult facility," he said. "She has nothing in her background that would give her the ability to survive in that type of atmosphere.

"She may fantasize a little bit that she is tough, but she's not," he said.

Padgett sentenced Valessa Robinson to 15 years on the murder count, and an additional five years for auto theft, to be served back-to-back. She must serve 85 percent of her sentence before she can be released under current Florida law.

The teen showed no emotion as the judge announced her sentence, but others in the courtroom wept.

Shopping for tattoos, drugs

Prosecutors say Valessa Robinson, who was 15 at the time, held her mother down as Davis first tried to inject her with bleach and then stabbed her. The pair and another friend then fled in the mother's minivan, using her credit cards to buy tattoos and drugs.

The trio eventually was caught after a high-speed chase in Texas, and they drew investigators maps to the woods where they had left Vicki Robinson's body stuffed in a garbage can.

Davis, now 21, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The friend, Jon Whispel, also 21, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and agreeing to testify against Davis and Robinson.

Whispel told jurors that the three were high on LSD and meeting at a Denny's restaurant when Valessa Robinson came up with the idea, saying: "Let's kill my mom."

Planned on boarding school

Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that Valessa Robinson was a troubled and rebellious teen who had been in a long-standing power struggle with her mother, a 49-year-old real estate broker. The girl had run away repeatedly and was talking about having a baby with Davis, then a 19-year-old drifter with a jail record.

Her mother had quietly made plans to enroll the teen in a boarding school for troubled girls, in part to keep her away from Davis. It was not clear whether Valessa Robinson and her boyfriend somehow learned of those plans. But, prosecutors said, they plotted to kill her because they knew Robinson disapproved of their relationship.

Defense attorney Dee Ann Athan argued the teen was a lost, impressionable young girl whose divorced mother was too permissive and inconsistent. Davis, she said, lured her with sex and drugs, and then killed her mother with Whispel's help.

Lisa Holewa is an APBnews.com correspondent in Florida.

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