Robert James Acremant
Sentenced to death: 1997
A former trucking company efficiency expert, Acremant confessed that
he killed Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill of Medford in 1995 because
he wanted money from their rental business to further his relationship
with a Las Vegas stripper. Acremant also faces execution in California,
where a jury sentenced him to death in 2002 for killing Scott George of
Visalia in 1995.
Interesting fact: Acremant's father testified in favor of his son
getting the death penalty in the California case.
Status: Death Row.
Acremant's past drew admiration
1980s friends recall man who worked
By Dani Dodge
While others partied during their military service,
Robert James Acremant worked 12-hour days and studied every night,
earning his bachelor's degree in two years.
"I had a great deal of admiration for Bob," said
Sidney Pierce, who served in the Air Force with Acremant for three years
at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in the late 1980s. "The drive
he had is just something you don't see."
Acremant's friends during his military service and a
registered nurse, a man in his third year of medical school and an FBI
special agent all said they admired Acremant's ambition and work ethic.
They said they expected great things from the exemplary young man.
But Monday, they all testified in the sentencing
phase of Acremant's double-murder trial.
Acremant, 29, pleaded guilty last year to murdering
Roxanne Ellis, 53, and Michelle Abdill, 42. Acremant told police he
killed the Medford women Dec. 4, 1995, in a botched attempt to rob their
property management company. At the conclusion of the sentencing trial,
a jury will decide if Acremant will die by lethal injection for the
Acremant also admitted killing a Visalia, Calif., man
in October 1995 and will face a trial in California that also could end
up in a death sentence.
As the defense began presenting its case Monday,
attorneys attempted to show something of the man before he became a
Pierce, a registered nurse, told the
jury that Acremant worked and studied hard because he wanted to retire
before he was 35. He didn't chase women. Once they were watching the
movie "Scarface" and Acremant agreed with Al Pacino's character, who
"When you get money, you get power. And when you get
power, you get women."
Instead of drinking with the other Air Force enlisted
men, Acremant and a small group of friends would go hiking when they
needed time away.
When a picture of one of these trips was shown in the
courtroom, Acremant smiled. The photo showed Acremant standing next to a
rock formation, his backpack loaded down with a sleeping mat and
sunglasses shading his eyes.
When Acremant argued with others, instead of
resorting to fisticuffs he would run to the library, Pierce said.
"Bob wasn't physically violent, he was the
intellectual type," Pierce said. "He would go to the library and find it
in a book, and then show the person."
Alan Savoy, a third-year medical student, said he
remembered Acremant working extra hours to cover for those who didn't.
"He had a great reputation for being a hard worker,"
Savoy said. "For being there. For being solid."
Sergio Borrego, an FBI agent, was Acremant's roommate
during the last few years the two were in the Air Force. Borrego was the
only other person trying to work the long Air Force hours and go to
school at Holloman Air Force base, Savoy said.
Borrego said: "We both pushed each other to study."
After he left the Air Force, Acremant earned his
master's degree, then went to work for a Southern California branch of
Roadway Express, a worldwide trucking company, in 1991.
"Bob was an extremely motivated, focused individual,"
said Wally Blodgett, Acremant's superior for two years beginning in
1992. "He was one of the most competent, conscientious individuals I've
ever worked with."
After two years, Blodgett recommended Acremant's
promotion to efficiency expert, a position in which Acremant tried to
improve the efficiency of terminals in the district.
District manager Ralph Santarelli became Acremant's
boss. Santarelli said Acremant did a great job and was in no danger of
being fired or laid off. He was steadily promoted. Acremant left his
$50,000-a-year job in May 1995 to start a software company. The company
Santarelli said Roadway Express would have rehired
Acremant if he had asked for his job back.
Acremant threatened to kill father
Family, friends testify at killer's penalty trial
By DANI DODGE
When Robert James Acremant learned his father had
turned him in to police, he turned nasty.
When Kenneth Acremant didn't follow his son's
instructions regarding his belongings, Acremant got even worse.
"My son made a comment that if he could get out of
jail he would put a bullet in my head," Kenneth Acremant testified
Monday. "The phone fell off the arm chair and disconnected."
As his father testified for the prosecution Monday,
Acremant glanced up only occasionally. His father looked intently to the
attorneys questioning him.
Father and son's eyes never met.
Acremant, 29, pleaded guilty last year to aggravated
murder, kidnapping and robbery in the Dec. 4, 1995, slayings of Roxanne
Ellis, 53, and Michelle Abdill, 42. He is serving 22 1/2 years in prison
on the kidnapping and robbery convictions.
In the sentencing trial for aggravated murder that
began last week, Acremant is facing a possible death sentence. Acremant
has also admitted killing Scott George, a Visalia man, and will face
trial in California for that crime.
In court Monday, George's best friend, Manuel Demello,
testified Acremant pretended to help the family find George after he
When asked by District Attorney Mark Huddleston if
Acremant was in the room, Demello replied: "Yes sir."
Then he thrust a finger in Acremant's direction.
"That thing right there."
The jury also saw a videotape of Visalia detective
Steve Shear interviewing Acremant about the George murder, which
occurred Oct. 3, 1995.
In the video, Shear told Acremant that he believed
George may have been bisexual.
"I think there's a sexual angle to it, Bobby," the
detective said. "I think you got sexual issues that pushed you over the
But Acremant repeatedly denied any sexual connection
to the killings. He said he didn't even know that George was bisexual.
"You're so wrong," he said at one point.
He said the murder was just something that happened.
"Just driving along, I reached down, pulled (the gun)
out and that was it," he explained.
A family friend of Acremant's, 22-year-old Taryn
Sweeney, testified that on Dec. 12, 1995, Acremant came to her Visalia
home threatening to kill her and her mother because he wanted her
Acremant was handcuffing Sweeney to the bed when a
girlfriend came to the door of her home and Acremant allowed her to
"I ran," Sweeney said. "I was screaming, `He's going
to kill me. He's going to kill you. He's going to kill my mother."'
She escaped with only a bump on her head. Acremant
had hit her with the butt of his gun.
Although he was testifying for the prosecution,
Kenneth Acremant brought to light another side of Robert James Acremant.
In an interview that was videotaped after Acremant's capture in December
1995, Acremant cried as he talked to his father.
On the stand, Kenneth Acremant remembered when his
first-born son was making it big in the corporate world, and he gave his
son a treasured family heirloom -- a diamond ring the elder Acremant had
kept since he was 16.
After Acremant killed three people and lost all his
money, he left the ring at his father's home.
"When I seen the ring -- and knowing what I heard
from police -- I thought it was good-bye. The end," Kenneth Acremant
testified. "It was like, `Here Dad. I love you. Good-bye."'
But the tenderness turned when Acremant learned that
his father had called police after spotting Acremant's rented U-Haul.
"He cut himself off from the outside world except
Kenny (Acremant Jr., his brother)," Acremant's attorney Ralph Monson
said. "And he said rotten things."
Kenneth Acremant agreed, with a solemn "yes" to each
Many of the threats and accusations were made in
letters. Kenneth Acremant said he tried to get his son barred from
writing him the letters, but police said they couldn't help him.
In November 1996, Acremant sent a letter to his
father apologizing for what he had said.
Monson asked Kenneth Acremant whether he had been
able to rebuild a relationship with his son.
"To a degree, yes," the elder Acremant answered.
"Still a ways to go?" Monson asked.
Robert James Acremant