A prison inmate seeking to overturn his capital murder conviction in the strangulation death of 14-year-old Chelsea Brooks may have filed one too many motions from his Kansas prison cell.
A hearing that was scheduled to be held Thursday for Elgin “Ray Ray” Robinson, 27, was continued after his lawyer realized that one of the motions Robinson had filed was a request to have him replaced with another court-appointed lawyer.
Robinson’s case is known at the Sedgwick County Courthouse as a “1507,” which gets its name from Kansas Statute 60-1507, the law that dictates the civil procedure for prison inmates seeking to challenge their sentences. The motions are typically filed by inmates after all other appeals have failed, and they are rarely granted.
Robinson’s convictions for capital murder, rape, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated indecent liberties with a child were upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court in March 2012.
Robinson filed his 1507 motion two months later, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, and has since filed at least a half-dozen follow-up motions. It was a motion he filed May 21 titled “motion to withdraw counsel” that caused Thursday’s continuance. The motion asked that his lawyer, Michael Brown, be replaced.
Robinson wrote in that motion that he had “written over 10 letters to Mr. Brown asking questions and expressing concerns, and Mr. Brown has only responded once. … The movant would like to be appointed counsel who will respond to his letters and address his questions and concerns.”
Robinson, a high/medium security inmate at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility, did not attend the hearing.
Brown said he didn’t realize until he came to court Thursday that the May 21 motion had been filed. He said when he spoke to Robinson on the phone Thursday morning, Robinson made no mention of wanting a new lawyer.
Prosecutor Kristi Barton argued that the hearing should go on because there was no legal basis for Robinson receiving a new lawyer. His motion didn’t allege a conflict of interest on Brown’s part or a dereliction of duty, she said, but only a lack of attention.
District Judge Patrick Walters said he wanted to make sure Robinson wanted Brown to remain on the case before continuing the hearing. He continued the case until Nov. 15.
Chelsea Brooks disappeared June 9, 2006, after she went to a skating rink in Wichita with friends. Her body was found less than a week later in a Butler County field. Robinson, the father of her unborn child, was accused of arranging the murder to avoid being charged with raping her.
Robinson argued in his original 1507 motion that his lawyers failed to follow his trial strategy, which was to accuse co-defendant Everett Gentry of impregnating and killing Chelsea.
Robinson was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, plus 247 months, after a jury failed to reach an agreement on whether he should receive the death penalty.