Dylan Robinson displayed no discernible reaction as he listened to the jury deliver its verdict at the conclusion of his three-day trial Wednesday, June 23, in Otsego County Court.
Robinson, 17, stood with his hands in his pockets as the foreperson of the jury responded to each of the charges levied against him in the 2019 death of his father, Kenneth Robinson.
For fatally shooting his father during an armed invasion of his Worcester residence: guilty of second-degree murder, first-degree burglary and first-degree attempted robbery. For setting the house on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime: not guilty of third-degree arson.
“We were disappointed in the jury’s verdict but gratified to see the care and time they took examining the proof, as evidenced by the not-guilty verdict on the arson,” said Robinson’s assigned defense counsel, Thomas Hegeman, who told Judge John F. Lambert that he intends to file a motion to have his client’s conviction set aside.
During deliberation, the jury requested to view a three-hour recording of Robinson’s initial interview with New York State Police and hear again the testimony of Investigator Brian Mackey, who conducted the interview.
On Wednesday, jurors requested to be re-read the definition of second-degree murder, sending notice about 15 minutes later that they had reached a verdict.
Robinson stood silent as a sheriff’s deputy clicked handcuffs on his wrists, keeping his head low as he turned to face the gallery for the first time since the start of the trial.
Audible sobs broke the courtroom silence from three rows back, where his mother and a handful of other supporters had listened to a day and a half of testimony and awaited the verdict through about four hours of deliberations.
“I love you, Dylan!” someone called out in the moments before he was led away. Robinson looked up and nodded.
On the other side of the courtroom, Kenneth Robinson’s nieces, son and brother embraced, some of them wiping tears from their eyes.
“It was my brother and my nephew. I don’t really want to take sides,” the latter told The Daily Star. “He’s definitely not fit to be out in the street, let’s put it that way.”
“I think it’s the best we can do for justice in this case,” Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said after adjournment. “It’s no fun, and I don’t take any pleasure in putting teenagers in prison. We can’t have teenagers getting together and organizing a gang and going and killing somebody. I don’t know what else we can do.”
Because the crime was committed while Robinson and his two teenage co-defendants were underage, Muehl said, they will be held in youth detention facilities until they turn 21. The remainder of their sentences will be served in prison.
Anais Soto, now 19, and Alexander Borggreen, now 17, each faced up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of first-degree burglary, even after the murder, robbery and arson charges were dropped under the terms of separate plea bargains.
Soto, who has not yet pleaded to anything but faces eight to 10 years under the terms of her tentative plea agreement, gave testimony Monday about her recollection of events the night of Oct. 10, 2019.
Though she did not directly witness the murder of Kenneth Robinson, as she stood armed guard outside the home while Robinson and two others, also armed, went inside, Soto recalled that Robinson gloated about killing his father throughout the entire ride back to Oneonta.
“I’m sure they’ll schedule her case quickly, now that this is over,” Muehl said. “I convinced the judge not to do it earlier because she might end up doing what Borggreen did to me.”
Borggreen took the stand Monday but repeatedly refused to testify against Robinson, violating the terms of his plea agreement, under which he was previously sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Muehl said he has not yet decided if he will seek to vacate Borggreen’s conviction of the lesser burglary charge and pursue a new trial with the original slate of charges, including murder, intact.
Muehl said he sought to solicit testimony from Borggreen about Dylan Robinson starting or helping to start the fire, as well as pulling the trigger on his father, a theory that had been disputed in earlier court proceedings as Nicolas Meridy, then 32, admitted to also firing his gun in Kenneth Robinson’s bedroom.
Meridy, now 34, pleaded guilty to murder just before his trial was set to begin in August and was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison. He has been incarcerated at Great Meadows Correctional Facility in Washington County since November, according to state records.
Addressing claims that Robinson might have killed his father in retaliation for alleged abuse, Muehl said, “There doesn’t seem to be that much evidence out there one way or the other, but I can’t say for sure.”
“I knew Kenny and I never heard anything about him abusing his kids,” Muehl continued, noting that the victim had primary custody of his two younger sons, both of whom were in the home the night of the murder.
The intruders were allegedly after $5,000 in cash and marijuana when they entered Kenneth Robinson’s home, according to the initial investigation, but Muehl said no evidence was found that there was anything to steal.
“I don’t know if they left empty-handed because there was nothing to find or if they just were scared after he was killed, overwhelmed by what happened, left and didn’t look, but Dylan should have known where the stuff was, at least,” Muehl said, adding that there was no evidence to support the defendant’s claim to police that his father grew and sold marijuana. “Investigators didn’t find anything when they searched the house afterward.”
Robinson faces 25 years to life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 23, in Otsego County Court.
Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.