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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Death Penalty Upheld |for Kansas Serial Killer

KANSAS CITY (CN) - A serial killer charged with the murder of seven women and a teenage girl will be the first man to receive the lethal injection in Kansas, the state Supreme Court ruled.

John Robinson Sr., now 71, was convicted in 2002 of the murders of two women whose bodies were found stuffed inside barrels on property he owned in Linn County, Kansas.

Prosecutors said Robinson created an online identity, "Slavemaster," they he used while trolling various bondage, domination, sadism and masochism websites. In was through these websites that he met Suzette Trouten, 27, and Izabela Lewicka, 21, who moved to the Kansas City and allegedly agreed to be his sex slaves, before eventually being tortured and killed by him.

A missing person report filed by Trouten's family in 2000 led to discovery of the women's bodies.

After the longest criminal trial in Kansas history, the jury also found him guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a Kansas City woman, Lisa Stasi, who disappeared in 1985 with her infant daughter, Tiffany.

Investigators later said Robinson gave the infant to his brother and sister-in-law, who he'd led to believe he'd arranged a legitimate adoption for them with the aid of forged documents.

Robinson also pleaded guilty to killing five other women in Missouri, three of whom were found inside barrels in a storage locker.

He was sentenced to death in Kansas, and life in prison in Missouri.

After being sentenced to die in Kansas, Robinson filed an appeal, claiming that the court made numerous errors during his high profile trial.

He said these mistakes, coupled with the overwhelming media attention, created

and unfair bias against him before and during his trial. He also charged that prosecutor made improper comments during the trial that addressed inadmissible evidence.

But in a massive, 415-page opinion, the Kansas Supreme Court rejected almost all of Robinson's claims, and ruled he will stay on death row.

Writing for the court, Justice Caleb Stegall conceded that a number of errors had been made during the trial, but "[i]n this case, the cumulative effect of the identified guilt phase errors did not substantially prejudice defendant or deny him a right to a fair trial."

Stegall continued: 'The state presented ample evidence that Robinson lured his victims with promises of financial gain, employment, or travel; exploited them sexually or financially; used similar methods of murder and dispose of their bodies; and used deception to conceal the crimes, including phony letters and e-mails to victims' friends and family members."

However, the court did throw out one of his two capital murder convictions as well as a first-degree murder conviction, holding that prosecutors had improperly relied on the murders of the same four victims to support each capital murder charge he cased.

In Dissent, Justice Lee Johnson said he would have also tossed the remaining capital charge on the grounds that he believes the death penalty violates the Kansas Constitution.

"The death penalty presents a Catch-22 dilemma: to avoid unconstitutionality, a death sentence must be thoroughly and completely examined and reexamined, but the resultant delay renders the punishment unconstitutional," Johnson wrote. "The remedy is to declare the punishment unconstitutional."

The ruling is considered a milestone because it represents the first time the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a death sentence since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1994.

Paul Morrison, who led the prosecution as district attorney and is now in private practice, said he was gratified the death penalty was upheld.

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