A mother, a daughter, a murder

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Part 1: The Great Divide
Part 2: Mad Love
Part 3: Valessa in the Tower
Part 4: Before and After
Part 5: Opening Fire
Part 6: The Lost Boy
Part 7: Missing Persons
Part 8: The Girl in White
Part 9: Words Unspoken
Part 10: Judgment Day
Part 11: The Vigil

Part 12: A Lesser Degree

Apology heads off contempt hearing

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Tampabay: 'Dear Journal ... It's me, Valessa'

'Dear Journal ...
It's me, Valessa'

Even before she met her boyfriend, she was writing of drugs, sex and escape.


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 25, 2000

This is a photocopy of a page from Valessa Robinson's journal, released Monday.
TAMPA -- She wrote the first entry on Feb. 27, 1995. At age 11, she was halfway through the sixth grade.

    Dear Journal,

    Hi! It's me, Valessa. I am waiting for TBCC to start, my mom always drops me off early.

She was talking about the Tampa Bay Children's Choir. There was a boy in the group who seemed to like her.

    I've never really talked to him, but during chorus he always looks at me. I think he's just too shy to actually talk to me.

Three years later, on May 11, 1998, she was still writing in her journal. By this point, she had just turned 15 and was finishing her freshman year at Sickles High School. Now she was talking about another boy. This one had just gotten out of jail.

    My true one and only love is Adam William Davis, and pretty soon I'll be Valessa Lyn Davis. Since Adam's been out, we've made love 8 times. We're trying to get me pregnant because I want a baby so bad. Just imagine a little version of me running around, scary, isn't it!

She talked about how Adam was drinking too much, stealing, feeling suicidal.

    But, all the same, there isn't anyone else on this earth I would rather have a child w/ than Adam, he's a sweetheart and I love him to death.

• • •

Valessa Robinson's diaries were released Monday, three days after a jury found her guilty of third-degree murder in the death of her mother, Vicki Robinson, in June 1998.

Read special trial coverage from the Times
The journals were sealed after Valessa's arrest. Defense lawyers argued that the volumes contained no evidence relevant to the charges against her, and that they could prove "extremely prejudicial" if made public.

A judge agreed, and sealed them until after the trial.

The defense's reasons for keeping the journals private were obvious Monday. The entries at times refer to drugs, sex and running away, much of it long before Valessa met Adam Davis.

And while the journals contain no hint of the violence to come, they offer a more complex portrayal than the defense's description of Valessa as a vulnerable "little girl" who was taken advantage of by Davis and Jon Whispel, both 19.

According to her journals, Valessa had started taking LSD and having sex months before meeting Davis in October 1997.

Monday, lead defense attorney Dee Ann Athan said the journals did not conflict with what she said at Valessa's trial. She said she never argued that Valessa wasn't having sex or doing drugs before Adam. Some of what Valessa wrote was teenage fantasy, Athan said.

For all the stories in the journals about vandalizing mailboxes, shoplifting and getting "f----- up," there are signs that she was much like any teenage girl. On those pages, Valessa cruises the mall with friends and grows moony with crushes.

In August 1996, she worried a certain boy would find out she liked him.

"I would just die!" she wrote.

• • •

The journals begin in February 1995, when Valessa was a sixth-grader at Seminole Presbyterian. Her parents had divorced a year earlier.

    June 18, 1995: I can't believe the TV took My So-Called Life off air, that sucks. I always thought I was Angela on My So-Called Life.

About a boy she likes:

    The only thing I won't do is have sex with him because I don't think it's right. And we're too young anyway. I would do anything to go out with him.

A year later, by the seventh grade, Valessa had abandoned her favorite singers -- Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson -- for harder bands: Korn, Nine Inch Nails and Garbage.

    May 22, 1996: I smoke now because I get a buzz each time I take a hit. Plus, now I have a black lite and I'm getting a strobe lite.

By the end of seventh grade, Valessa's writings had turned more rebellious.

    May 23, 1996: We hate school, have no respect for teachers or parents. If I had a choice I would move out of my mother f------ house.

    May 27, 1996: Life sucks, I know that's the truth. The world is always setting you up for disappointments.

Valessa began smoking marijuana and drinking in eighth grade at Ben Hill Middle School. It was also the year she became sexually active.

    April 5, 1997: Well, I can finally say I'm 14 years old. But first I'll tell you about the concert. Me and (friend) went to Bush. It was pretty cool. The thing that really sucked is that there wasn't a mosh pit. Well anyway, another thing I can say truthfully is that I am no longer a virgin. See, on March 27, my mom went off to do whatever and the house was close to empty except for ...

    June 1, 1997: Yesterday I tripped on acid for the first time. It was fun. Everything was fun and everything tickled. Around 1:43 a.m., I snuck out of my window and I went to (boy's) house.

And then in mid-October, while a freshman at Sickles High, Valessa met Adam Davis.

    Oct. 23, 1997: Adam's treated me better than any guy I've ever gone out with and it's because of that and other reasons that I did fall in love with him.

    May 18, 1998: Saturday, May 16 was Adam and I's 7-month anniversary. He bought me a 1/2-dozen roses and an anniversary card it was so sweet. We went out to dinner and then we went to my school dance.

    My mom dropped him off at (friend's) house in Town 'N Country but me and Adam had our own plans. Around 1 a.m. Adam came over and I snuck him in my window.

• • •

Valessa's lawyers were careful not to give the prosecutors an excuse to have the journals admitted into the trial.

At a pretrial hearing, for example, the defense's LSD expert had testified that he spoke to Valessa about her drug use. But when that expert testified in front of the jury, he spoke only in generalities about LSD. That kept prosecutors from being able to present Valessa's own writings about the drug.

It is difficult to analyze what effect, if any, Valessa's diaries might have had on the jury.

Valessa's father, Chuck Robinson, said he had not read them. He said many parents might be surprised at how much their children were experimenting with drugs. He will not read the journals unless Valessa says it is okay.

"But from what I understand, basically they really show that Valessa was very, very normal up until the time she met Adam," Robinson said. "I think it's much to do about nothing."

• • •

The final entry in the journals was three weeks before the murder. On June 7, 1998, Valessa began:

    Dear Journal,

    I haven't written for a while, but there's been a good reason for that. If you haven't noticed the 5 pages that were ripped out of my journal, you know now. The reason for that is because my mom read my journal and made copies of the 5 pages. It really pisses me off that my mom would invade my privacy like that. I can't trust her now that she's done this. Before I trusted her w/ almost anything, but now I won't be able to trust her at all.

She goes on to talk about how she and Adam have decided to wait to have a baby and how Adam has recently gotten out of jail again.

    So he's out and I'm happy about that. School got out for the summer June 5th so I've got summer vacation for a while. That's pretty much all that's been going on so I'll be going now, bye bye!

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