The 20-year-old, who injected the real estate agent with
bleach and stabbed her, sobs during closing arguments. He could be
sentenced to death.
By Sue Carlton -
St. Petersburg Times
November 5, 1999
TAMPA -- Adam Davis, a young drifter with a taste for LSD and a string
of arrests, deliberately and savagely killed his girlfriend's mother in
her suburban kitchen, a jury decided Thursday.
Davis, who shook with sobs during closing arguments,
sat stone-faced when the verdict was read after less than two hours of
A hushed wave of tears and elation passed through
those who loved Vicki Robinson, a 49-year-old real estate agent
detectives say was killed by three teens, including her own daughter,
"I'm ecstatic that justice has been exhibited before
us in this courtroom today," said her friend, Deborah Sartor-Englert. ".
. . I'm so thankful. I'm going to sleep so good tonight."
There were also tears for the few who had gathered
"I'm scared for what's going to happen to Adam now,"
said his stepmother, Donna Davis.
The jury of six women and six men returns to the
courtroom today to hear evidence on whether he should spend his life in
prison or die in the electric chair. Circuit Judge Cynthia Holloway will
consider their recommendation when she sentences Davis later.
"No mercy," Sartor-Englert said. "He showed no mercy
to Vicki Robinson in her last moments of death, and I believe he should
experience the same."
Jurors learned this week of the turmoil building
inside the Robinsons' sprawling Carrollwood home before the shocking
There, Mrs. Robinson lived with a defiant teenage
daughter who ran away, tried drugs and talked of having a baby with her
19-year-old boyfriend, Davis, according to court records.
Davis later told detectives that Mrs. Robinson was
trying to keep them apart. He said that along with their friend, Jon
Whispel, they took LSD one night in June 1998 and concocted a plan to
kill her so the threesome could stay together.
Whispel, who in a plea deal was sentenced to 25 years
in prison, testified that Davis attacked Mrs. Robinson from behind as
she walked through her kitchen in her nightgown. He said that Davis
injected her in the neck with bleach and that Valessa helped hold her
Whispel admitted he handed over a knife but said he
didn't watch what Davis did next. Davis later walked into the bedroom
with the knife in his bloody hands and said he had stabbed her.
"The b---- won't die," Whispel quoted Davis as saying.
Davis gave a similar account after the three were
caught driving Mrs. Robinson's minivan in Texas.
Jurors saw a single gruesome photo of her body, badly
decomposed after being stuffed head-first into a plastic garbage can and
hidden in the woods.
Defense attorney Charles Traina admitted Davis was
involved but said it was not premeditated, asking a jury to consider a
lesser charge. That would have eliminated the possibility of a death
But prosecutor Shirley Williams traced deliberate
steps that night, from coming up with the plan to buying the syringe to
filling it with Mrs. Robinson's laundry bleach.
"It doesn't get any more premeditated than that,"
Also Thursday, a prison inmate who traveled with
Davis as he was being brought home to Florida said Davis boasted he was
dangerous, said he cut Mrs. Robinson up and called himself and Valessa
the Romeo and Juliet of the '90s.
Davis, now 20, did not testify. Observers weren't
sure what triggered his tears Thursday beginning at the end of the
prosecutor's closing argument.
Mrs. Robinson's friends clasped hands and whispered
prayers before the verdict. Her boyfriend, Jim Englert, touched the
blue-topaz ring he had given her when they started dating, a ring she
wore to her death.
"Real justice comes when he dies, whether it's in a
jail cell or in the electric chair," Englert said.
Valessa Robinson's trial is scheduled for Dec. 13.
She cannot face the death penalty because of her age. For Mrs.
Robinson's friends and family, that trial may be harder.
"We knew Valessa, we loved Valessa," said Mrs.
Robinson's friend, Bonnie Smith. "We still love her."
Judge seals Davis' fate:
The man who killed his girlfriend's mother ""knew it
Carlton - St. Petersburg Times
December 18, 1999
TAMPA -- They never knew Vicki Robinson. Still, they
went to court Friday, drawn by the tragedy of this mother murdered in
her struggle to deal with her defiant teenage daughter, Valessa.
They sat on hard benches awaiting the sentencing of
Valessa's boyfriend, 21-year-old Adam Davis, who had confessed to
plunging a bleach-filled needle into Mrs. Robinson's neck and then
stabbing her with a knife until she was still.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge's Cynthia Holloway's voice
was steady, catching only once as she gave details of Mrs. Robinson's
"Imagine the fear and anxiety the victim consciously
endured -- choking, injection of bleach, eventual multiple stabbing and
then being left to bleed to death," the judge said.
Davis' sentence: death.
"Yes," murmured Jeffrey Luddeke, a warehouse manager
who heard about Mrs. Robinson on the news and took the morning off to go
to court, joining a handful of other spectators there.
Standing before the judge, shackled and pale, Davis
hung his head but said nothing.
"He knew it was coming," said his court-appointed
attorney, Rick Terrana. "His focus now is on trying to arrange some
funding for a private lawyer to do his appeal."
"To think that kids would want to kill a mother, to
plan it out," said Anne Gambrell, a juror who convicted Davis last month
and returned Friday to see him sentenced. "I wonder what Valessa is
thinking right now."
Though Davis' mother and aunt attended his trial,
they were not there to see him sentenced to death. Nor were the legion
of friends, family, co-workers and fellow churchgoers of Mrs. Robinson,
who had filled the courtroom for the trial.
Only Jim Englert, Mrs. Robinson's boyfriend, sat
listening, his eyes wet.
"Vicki, of all people, the most loving, caring,
giving Christian lady," he said. "I looked up to her. I adored her. I'll
miss her forever."
Mrs. Robinson was a 49-year-old real estate agent
fighting to control her daughter. Then 15, Valessa was a sometime
runaway who took drugs and began an obsessive relationship with Davis,
an older boy who already had a string of arrests.
Mrs. Robinson was quietly making plans to put Valessa
in a boarding school for troubled girls. But the day Valessa was to
arrive at Steppin' Stone Farms instead was the day of Mrs. Robinson's
Jon Whispel, who hung out with Valessa and Davis,
told detectives the three had been in a booth at a Carrollwood Denny's
that night in June 1998 and getting high on LSD. Then Valessa suddenly
suggested they kill her mother, he said.
Whispel said Davis had taken up the idea, first
plotting to overdose Mrs. Robinson with heroin, and then switching to
the idea of injecting her with bleach and an air bubble.
Whispel, who testified in exchange for a 25-year
prison sentence on a reduced charge of second-degree murder, said Davis
had attacked her from behind, choked her and injected her. Whispel said
Valessa sat on her mother to hold her down. Whispel admitted handing
over the knife that was used to stab Mrs. Robinson to death.
Davis told police he had been "raging" when he "just
"The facts of this case clearly establish that this
murder was the result of a calm reflection, certainly not an emotional
frenzy," the judge said Friday.
Whispel said they had put Mrs. Robinson's body in a
trash can from her garage and dumped it in woods, then used her ATM
cards for drugs and tattoos. They took off in her minivan and made it as
far as Texas before they were arrested.
Holloway, delivering her first death sentence Friday,
said she considered defense arguments that Davis was on LSD, that he had
no previous convictions for assault, and that he suffered hardships in
his youth including the death of his father. She followed the
recommendation of the jury, which voted 7-5 for death in November.
Davis will spend his time in a 6- by 9-foot death row
cell, eating his meals with a spoon and showering every other day while
he awaits his appeal.
Davis told detectives they had murdered Mrs. Robinson
because they didn't want to be separated. Friday, Englert sounded weary
as he tried to figure the logic.
"Of all the things in the world these children could
have done, this is the only thing they could have done to prevent being
together," he said.