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Davis guilty of killing his girlfriend’s mother

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.

davis after verdict
Above: Adam Davis sits silently upon hearing the verdict. At right, Jim Englert, the boyfriend of the murder victim, hugs prosecutor Pam Bondi.
[Times photos: Tony Lopez 


© St. Petersburg Times, published 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 deliberation.

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, Valessa.

"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 for Davis.

"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 murder.

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 mother down.

Adam Davis cries just after the prosecutor's closing arguments Thursday. The trial's sentencing phase begins today.  [Times photo: Tony Lopez]
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 sentence.

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," Williams said.

[Times photo: Tony Lopez]
Vicki RobinsonValessa Robinson (left) will be tried next month for her part in the slaying of her mother (right).

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."

-- Times staff writers Anne Hull and Tom French contributed to this report.

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