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Prosecutors scratch killer from witness list

Faced with delays, prosecutors back off using Adam Davis at the upcoming murder trial


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 2000

TAMPA -- Convicted killer Adam Davis won't be returning to Tampa from death row to testify against the teenage girl he once called his "soul mate."

In a stunning development earlier this month, Davis was listed as a potential state witness for the murder trial of his former girlfriend, Valessa Robinson. Davis and Robinson were accused of murdering her mother inside her Carrollwood home in 1998 because they feared she wanted to separate them.

Davis, who confessed to detectives soon after his arrest that he had stabbed Vicki Robinson, was convicted and sentenced to death last year. But recently, he contacted one of those detectives and told him it was really Valessa who was the killer.

Davis was then listed as a possible witness for the prosecution at Valessa Robinson's trial, which is set for April. But according to court documents filed this week, prosecutors have decided not to call Davis after all.

"We withdrew his name so we can proceed to trial on April 10th," prosecutor Pam Bondi said.

Robinson's lawyers say they still plan to interview Davis and will ask Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett to delay the trial's start.

Davis' latest statement "certainly enhances the potential defense that he is a manipulative, controlling young man," said Hillsborough Public Defender Julianne Holt. "This is too serious a case not to pursue any and all avenues."

Holt also said that Davis' new story only adds fuel to the defense's request to move the trial out of town because of intense publicity.

"The damage by providing (Davis') statement to the community is already done, and they can't undo it by removing him now," Holt said.

Davis, Robinson and their friend Jon Whispel were arrested driving Vicki Robinson's minivan in Texas six days after the 49-year-old Carrollwood real estate agent disappeared. Davis gave a detailed confession, saying he was high on LSD when he choked her and stabbed her.

But when the detective came to see him in prison in Starke last month at his request, Davis told another story. He said he had gotten angry, choked Mrs. Robinson and left her unconscious on the kitchen floor. He said he came back in the room to find Valessa Robinson, then 15, standing over her mother with a knife in her bloody hands.

It wasn't clear how prosecutors might have been able to use Davis' latest statement, given that they used his original confession to convict him. Prosecutors said they only considered putting him on the witness stand if Robinson testified and they needed him to rebut specifics of her story.

Defense lawyers say they plan to file a motion for a delay in the trial this week.

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