An Innocent Man? Judge's report finds Sikeston, MO man did not commit 2000 murder

An Innocent Man? Judge's report finds Sikeston, MO man did not commit 2000 murder
David Robinson (Source: KFVS)
David Robinson (Source: KFVS)

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KFVS) - David Robinson has spent more than 17 years in prison for a murder he's always said he did not commit.

"In my mind? Yes, I'm going home," said David Robinson. "Yes, they're going to honor his opinion."

Now, a special judge reporting to the Missouri Supreme Court agrees.

And, this isn't a procedural error.  The judge who wrote a 91-page report to the High Court said David Robinson is innocent, the two key witnesses at his trial lied, and the detective behind his arrest simply cannot be believed.

Investigative reporter Kathy Sweeney sat down with Robinson at the Jefferson City Correctional Center to talk about his case and the report he knows from front to back.

"I read this every day," he said. "I can tell you everything in there page for page."

For Robinson, the Master's Report to the Missouri Supreme Court on his case puts a megaphone to the words he's repeated over and over again.

"I ain't no murderer. I ain't killed nobody," Robinson said. "I didn't kill Sheila Box or nobody else."

One year ago, the state's high court called on Jefferson County Judge Darrell Missey to review everything in Robinson's case and to gather new testimony.

His report starts and finishes with the same assertion - that Robinson is innocent.

"David Robinson did not kill Sheila Box on the evening of August 5, 2000, but is actually innocent of that crime," Missey wrote.

The pages in between detail an investigation that relied on questionable witnesses and no physical evidence, led by Detective John Blakely. It was described in the report as not competent and not credible.

"In summary, this court finds Detective John Blakely's testimony is not credible," Missey said. "He is lacking in candor or competence, or both."

"After reading that, I felt like wow," Robinson said. "It's the same thing I've been saying for 17-and-a-half years. And, it fell on deaf ears."

On the night of August 5, 2000, Sheila Box died shortly after being shot as she sat in her SUV on Sikeston's west side.

Police arrested Robinson and a second man that same night. They were questioned, their clothes tested for blood or gunpowder residue, and then released.

But, Robinson said that he believes the focus stayed on him.

"It was more so that they wanted me more than they wanted anybody," Robinson said. "Past history. Dealing with the police."

"With only the testimony of Albert Baker and Jason Richison implicating David Robinson, the jury convicted him of murder and armed criminal action, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole," Missey wrote.

Richison testified that he shared a cell with Robinson and overheard him bragging about the murder.

But three years after the trial, Richison told investigators that wasn't true and evidence shows he and Robinson were never cellmates.

Judge Missey called his trial testimony "profoundly unbelievable."

Albert Baker, a paid informant for Sikeston Police, testified that he saw Robinson shoot Box.

But in 2017, Baker told the Judge he lied, saying "the detectives said they would change my life."

Baker got out of jail within hours of signing his statement against Robinson, and received $2,500 in the weeks after.

"He asked me and my family for forgiveness," Robinson said of Baker.

"Yeah, I forgive him," said Robinson. "I'll even forgive Blakely because as long as I hit on the hate I couldn't move forward."

Judge Missey had harsh words for John Blakely, who took what the Court considered false statements from both Baker and Richison.

"Much of Detective Blakely's testimony simply does not ring true," Missey wrote.

He also questioned the timing of Albert Baker's release from jail back in 2000, calling it no accident.

"Blakely denied that he didn't have nothing to do with Baker getting out of jail," Robinson said. "That was a lie. The judge called it a lie."

The judge also called Blakely "the least credible witness to have testified before this Court."

What was credible, Judge Missey wrote, are the numerous confessions given by a man named Romanze Mosby.

Several people testified that Mosby said he shot Sheila Box that night following a drug deal gone bad. Mosby hanged himself in prison in 2009.

"I hate to see what happened," Robinson said of Mosby's death. "And do I believe the fact that he told other people that. Yeah."

But, the Judge also had some strong words for Robinson, calling him, "his own worst enemy."

"At first I looked at that judge like who you calling worst?  But, he's right," said Robinson. "Selling drugs, I was guilty for that. He said I spoke openly about it. I mean I've been convicted of it before."

If he is allowed to leave, will he be a changed man?

"I'm preparing myself now because I have walked out these doors six times for crimes that I was good for," Robinson said. "But, I always had in my head - I had no vision. I want to be going home. Getting out. Staying out. And be a different, a better husband. A better brother. A better father. A better mentor. A better son. Sikeston is in the rearview. I can't go through this again. I wouldn't want to go through this again. I wouldn't want nobody to go through this again."

David Robinson may plan to leave Sikeston behind, but that community faces the fallout from the special master's report.

City Manager Jonathan Douglas said they take the allegations against one of their officers very seriously.

"Judge Missey made several strong statements about Detective Blakely," Douglas said. "We reviewed all that information. We placed him on administrative leave, not disciplinary leave, at this time. In this case, we felt it was appropriate to get an outside, independent agency to investigate that. We felt that would be the most credible investigation for the public. So we've asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate that."

DPS Chief Mike Williams actually worked on Robinson's case.

While he could not talk about the pending court case, he wanted to send this message to Sikeston residents.

"That they can trust in the police department," said Williams. "They can trust that we are going to do our best for their safety. That our honesty and integrity is number one. That we look out for our citizens. We are a community-based police department, and we are going to stay that way."

The Missouri Supreme Court issued an order in the David Robinson case on Tuesday, May 1. That high court ruling ordered Robinson be set free in 30 days, unless the state elects to retry him.

We talked to Robinson's family about what it's been like the past 17 years that he's been in prison. They are hopeful the judge's report will ultimately set him free.

Read part one of the judge's report below. You can click here for a link to the PDF.

Read part two of the judge's report below. You can click here for a link to the PDF.

Read part three of the judge's report below. You can click here for a link to the PDF.

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