2010-03-11 / Front Page

Robinson Found Guilty In Second Trial

Hustontown man to be sentenced May 11
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Silent tears streamed down the faces of the family and friends of 14-year-old Joshua Wilt Jr. as a guilty verdict was delivered last week on all nine criminal counts levied against Hustontown area resident Ronald Lee Robinson.

According to reports from Pennsylvania State Police, Mc- Connellsburg, and court documents, Robinson provided alcohol to three juveniles on August 2, 2008. Just before midnight, one of those teens, 17-year-old Robert “Bobby” Smith, was involved in a single-vehicle crash while still under the influence of the alcohol he had consumed throughout the day.

Fatally injured during that accident was Wilt, a passenger in the red Isuzu Amigo operated by Smith. In following direct court orders, no reference could be made during the jury trial to the fatal crash involving Wilt or to Robinson’s level of intelligence.

Jurors, however, did review testimony from Smith and two female juveniles between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time of the accident who helped Robinson consume two 18-packs of Busch pounders that were purchased that day at K&K Budget Beer in Fort Littleton.

Clad in a maroon Department of Correction’s uniform, Smith, a prisoner at Pine Grove state correctional institution convicted of driving under the influence, shared that after having spent the night at Robinson’s residence along North Hess Road the duo awoke on August 2, 2008, and drove to the Hustontown home of Dennis Lane to get money.

Smith said that even though he had never possessed a driver’s license he did drive to the beer distributor on two occasions that day so Robinson could buy beer with the money he obtained from Lane.

The girls, who lived only a short distance from Robinson’s home, were invited to drink and hang out, they testified. They were stopped later that night by state police Trooper Roger Sheffield at a location along Frick Road near the Forbes Road School District. The girls were both charged and entered guilty pleas to underage drinking.

Defense attorney Dwight Harvey made repeated references to the inconsistencies provided by the three juveniles in outlining the day’s activities and how long they had been acquainted with Robinson. Harvey referred to original written statements given to investigating officers and transcripts of testimony given at a preliminary hearing held on November 3, 2008, and a trial in late October 2009.

All three teens admitted to not having jobs, owning a wrist watch or even having appointments or places to be during the summer of 2008.

Attorney Harvey also pointed out time differences in the testimony of Scott Keefer former sales clerk and warehouse employee at K&K Budget. Kyler stated that within a time frame of several hours he sold beer twice to Robinson on August 2 at his family’s beer distributor business.

Kyler was further questioned as to when he initially spoke to Trooper Shawn Fabian, who was the investigating officer in the fatal accident, and if he saw anything on the news regarding Robinson. Kyler testified he saw the Hustontown man’s photo on the Internet approximately two weeks following the incident and mentioned it to his mother.

In his closing arguments, Harvey concluded the three teens had an opportunity to corroborate their stories before talking to police. In addition, Kyler would face criminal charges and his parents could lose their business if beer had been sold to Smith and not Robinson. Harvey again pointed out the quality of evidence and inaccuracies in time and detail.

Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall countered Robinson aided and assisted the trio in committing a crime by purchasing and offering them beer. Kendall also stated time doesn’t have control over the lives of teenagers in the same way as adults.

“Add four gallons of beer to the mix, and it’s nothing but confusion,” said Kendall. “It’s hard to know what time it is when you’re drunk.”

“If they all had exactly the same story, we would hear it’s been concocted. It would be the same conclusion if their stories were different,” the district attorney concluded. “Time is not material. It’s illegal to give beer to kids at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., midnight or any time of day. There’s no doubt where they got the beer from.”

Following an hour and 45 minute deliberation, the jury delivered a verdict of guilty to three counts each of corruption of minors, reckless endangerment and furnishing alcohol to minors as they pertain to Smith and the two girls. The Fulton County Probation Department will conduct a presentence investigation prior to Robinson’s sentencing on May 11.

Return to top