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Man convicted in Kansas of killing three women appeals

Monday, July 27, 2009 | 4:07 p.m. CDT

TOPEKA, Kan. — A man convicted in Kansas of killing three women, including two whose bodies were found stuffed in barrels on his rural property, says he did not receive a fair trial because, among other issues, prosecutors unjustly attacked his wife.

John E. Robinson Sr. was sentenced to death for the deaths of Suzette Trouten, 27, of Newport, Mich., and Izabela Lewicka, 21, of West Lafayette, Ind., who authorities say Robinson lured to northeastern Kansas with promises of jobs and sadomasochistic sex.

He also received a life sentence for the death of Lisa Stasi, whose body was never found and whose infant daughter was adopted by Robinson's unwitting brother and sister-in-law in Chicago.

Robinson also pleaded guilty in Missouri to killing five women and received life sentences.

Kansas law requires all capital murder cases be appealed to the state's highest court. Robinson's attorney, Paige Nichols, filed an appeal last week.

Nichols argued that prosecutors forced Robinson's wife, Nancy Robinson, to cooperate by suggesting that she may have been a party to the crimes, although Nichols said the prosecution had no evidence that was the case.

"That attitude pervaded this case, led to multiple illegal searches, and resulted in rushed pretrial proceedings and a patently unfair trial," Robinson's attorney, Paige Nichols, wrote in the appeal.

The state attorney general's office and the Johnson County district attorney's office did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday. Attorneys for the state have until Oct. 19 to file a written response to Robinson's appeal. The high court likely won't hear the case until at least next year.

Nichols questioned the search warrant that led to the discovery of the bodies of Trouten and Lewicka in barrels on Robinson's rural Linn County property, about 60 miles south of his home in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe. Nichols said the Johnson County judge who issued the search warrant did not have jurisdiction.

Nichols also questioned a judge's decision that a juror's use of the Gideon's Bible during deliberations would not cloud the jury's ability to render a fair sentence. The judge had overruled objections Robinson's attorney's raised during the trial.

According to testimony at his trial, Robinson met both Trouten and Lewicka over the Internet and asked them to come to Kansas to be his sex slave and offered them jobs.

Testimony showed he presented himself to Stasi, a young mother who disappeared in 1985, as a successful businessman who wanted to give back to the community. Robinson's brother and sister-in-law testified that they were unaware that the baby Robinson helped them adopt in 1985 was Lisa Stasi's 4-month-old daughter. Robinson was convicted of interference with parental custody for arranging the adoption.

 


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