Robinson gets life; hearing gets fiery
Victim's family outraged by convict's denial
03/09/2011 12:18 PM
03/09/2011 12:18 PM
Prosecutor Kevin O'Connor told a judge he hoped no one would hear from Elgin Robinson Jr. after Robinson was sentenced to life in prison for killing his pregnant 14-year-old girlfriend.
Then Robinson spoke.
His words, along with those of Chelsea Brooks' family, stirred emotions that had been held inside for more than two years and which finally reached the breaking point at Robinson's sentencing hearing Fri-day morning.
After Robinson angered Chelsea's family by refusing to take responsibility for her death, his mother disrupted the proceeding, shouting at the dead teen's mother.
Sheriff's deputies dragged Irene Reed from the courtroom and had to restrain Chelsea's father, visibly agitated by the outbursts from Robinson's family.
Robinson was the third and final defendant to be sentenced in Chelsea's 2006 death, which O'Connor acknowledged had touched the entire Wichita community.
"The total disregard for human life in this case is truly astonishing," O'Connor said.
O'Connor criticized Robinson for his continued insistence on his innocence and for interviews he'd granted in jail, in which he called his trial unfair.
"Hopefully he will shut up and go away and we'll never hear from him again and he'll die in prison where he belongs," O'Connor told the judge.
But Robinson didn't go quietly. He began his speech before Sedgwick County District Judge Ben Bur-gess by apologizing to the Brooks family.
"But that's not to be mistaken as me taking responsibility for what happened to Chelsea," Robinson said, as Brooks' family and friends sighed.
'A bad boyfriend'
In his statement, Robinson also attacked his former best friend, Everett Gentry.
Gentry, who was 17 at the time, confessed to police, and testified in court, that the two planned Chel-sea's killing in the final weeks of her pregnancy.
Robinson, then 20, had impregnated Chelsea and had been threatened by her parents with rape charges because of her age. Gentry said Robinson told him he wanted to "get rid" of Chelsea and the two planned her death.
"After we have this hearing here and everybody's said all their little smart comments they want to say and tell me how much they really hate me for what I've done, the bottom line is I never told Everett to kill Chelsea," Robinson said.
Ted Burnett, 51, was convicted in May of strangling Chelsea after Gentry had driven them to a remote field in Butler County, where they buried her. Robinson had gone to Kansas City, so he would have an al-ibi, Gentry testified.
Burnett also is serving life without parole. Because Gentry was a juvenile at the time of the crime, he is serving a life sentence but will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Friday, Robinson said Gentry lied, "and he has everyone drinking his Kool-Aid."
"I may be a bad boyfriend," Robinson said. "I may be an adult who had sex with a little girl. But I am not a principal participant in this contract killing."
Brooks' family members and friends appeared shaken by Robinson's statemen ts, and some changed their prepared statements to reflect their outrage.
When Chelsea's mother, Terri Brooks, spoke, Robinson's mother leapt to her feet.
"Enough," she screamed. "You don't know Elgin. None of you know Elgin."
Darren Brooks, Chelsea's father, who sat silent through most of the hearing, jumped to his feet and began yelling at Reed.
Sheriffs' deputies held Darren Brooks and had to drag the screaming Reed from the courtroom.
Judge Burgess took a five-minute recess to let emotions calm and then continued the sentencing.
"He will be haunted in prison," Darren Brooks said as he stood before Burgess.
In pronouncing Robinson's sentence, Burgess said he'd practiced criminal law for four decades.
"In all these years I've never seen a case involving such dishonesty, evil and cowardly conduct," the judge said.
As Robinson left the courtroom, members of the Brooks family and their friends applauded.