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Monday, November 22, 2010

This Week in Crime: Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction in Winterthur Shooting

032910ronaldrobertson.jpgA Reston man was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter after shooting his girlfriend in his Winterthur apartment in October 2009.

Ron Robertson had not left his Reston apartment in more than three years. Depressed and drinking heavily, his one connection to the outside world was Karen Deck, a longtime friend, who brought him food and vodka almost daily.

Then, one afternoon last year, Robertson shot Deck once in the head, killing her almost instantly. He said it was an accident. Fairfax County prosecutors called it murder.

On Friday, a Fairfax jury ruled that the shooting was involuntary manslaughter, rejecting the prosecution's call for a first-degree murder conviction. The jury then sentenced Robertson, 46, to the maximum term of 10 years. Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Smith can either impose or reduce that sentence at a hearing early next year.

Robertson could face more serious penalties in federal court. Authorities say they hope to bring federal charges against him for being a felon in possession of a firearm - nearly a dozen guns were seized from his apartment after he shot Deck. He had been convicted in 1989 for shooting into an occupied vehicle.
The involuntary manslaughter conviction hinged on the question of why Robertson did not call police after shooting Deck.
Robertson did not call 911. Instead he called his parents, they testified, and told them that he had shot his girlfriend. His mother didn't believe him. He called his friends. They didn't believe him. Robertson passed out on the sofa, with Deck's body lying nearby.

The next day, Robertson still did not notify police. A friend came by, picked up some money and bought Robertson some vodka. Robertson said he drank heavily. Finally, after calling his mother again, she notified police. Officers who arrived said Robertson was so obese and drunk that he could not move himself off the sofa, and he had to be dragged from his apartment.

"If you love someone, no matter who you are," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kelly Pearson said, "you're going to render them aid. He doesn't do a single thing to help her. There's nothing about this case that suggests this is anything less than murder."

[Deputy Public Defender] Dawn M. Butorac responded: "Why would Mr. Robertson want to kill his lifeline, his link to the world? He needed his alcohol, his drug. Why would he kill her? . . . All of the physical evidence supports Mr. Robertson's version, that it was an accident."
Robertson could spend 10 years in prison if a judge upholds the jury's sentence.

4 comments:

  1. From the Uplands of RestonNovember 22, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    Now he can make new friends in prison. What's not to like? Social networking and simultaneous detox for the win!

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  2. It still begs the question: how did he accidentally shoot her in the head? Was he playing Russian Roulette and missed?

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  3. a guy so fat he can't get off the couch will have a lot of fun in prison!

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  4. 10 years for involuntary manslaughter? Life IS Russian Roulette...

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