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Robinson charged with murder in beating deaths of five women
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Kansas City Star) -- John Edward Robinson Sr. was charged Tuesday with capital murder in the beating deaths of five women whose bodies were found stuffed into barrels in Linn County, Kan., and Cass County, Mo.
Robinson, a 56-year-old Olathe man with a criminal record stretching back to 1969, now is facing a possible death sentence in two states.
The charges will not end the multistate investigation into Robinson's activities, authorities said.
They are continuing to investigate Robinson's connections to three women and a baby missing since the 1980s, and they are still working to determine the identities of two of the murder victims.
Robinson was charged Tuesday in Johnson County District Court in the deaths of Suzette Marie Trouten and Izabela Lewicka, whose bodies were found June 3 on property he owns in Linn County.
He was charged in Cass County Circuit Court with killing three women whose bodies were found June 5 in a rented Raymore storage facility. One of them has been identified as Beverly J. Bonner, a former prison librarian from Cameron, Mo. The two other women have not been identified. The charges list them as Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2 and say they were killed between Jan. 1, 1984, and June 5, 2000.
Investigators do not know when the women died, Cass County Prosecutor Christopher Koster said. The dates listed are based on when women connected to Robinson first began disappearing and the day the bodies were found in 55-gallon containers.
Koster has sent Robinson's court-appointed attorney in Kansas, Regional Defender Byron Cerrillo, a registered letter saying that he is seeking the death penalty.
Cerrillo could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but last week he said Robinson would plead not guilty if murder charges were filed.
Ron Evans, head of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, said Tuesday that there was a "good possibility" that his office would be taking over Robinson's defense.
To support the execution request, Koster wrote he intends to prove that Robinson committed murder to receive money or something else of value from his victims; that the murders were committed in a manner outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman by involving torture or depravity of mind; and that Robinson committed multiple murders.
All five women were killed with blows to the head by a hammer or some other blunt object, according to the charges.
According to the Johnson County charges, Trouten and Lewicka were killed as "part of a common scheme or course of conduct in which another human being was killed in a premeditated and intentional manner." The premeditated killing of more than one person is one of the limited number of scenarios in Kansas in which capital murder charges can be filed.
Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison and Koster agreed that the case will first be handled in Johnson County, where Robinson has been held on sexual assault charges. Koster said he would see whether his office can take part in Johnson County's pre-trial discovery process.
Under Kansas law, Morrison does not have to file a death notice until after Robinson is arraigned, which could be months away.
Koster said his request for the death penalty in Missouri will stand even if Robinson is sentenced to die in Kansas because the families of the victims found in Cass County have the right to see separate punishments for the murders of their loved ones.
"Unquestionably," Koster said. "Even if the death penalty is successfully prosecuted in Kansas, we will transfer him back."
Robinson has been the object of an intensive police investigation since Trouten, of Monroe County, Mich., was reported missing by her family shortly after moving to the Kansas City area this spring.
According to the Johnson County charges, Trouten, 28, was killed on or after Feb. 29.
Prosecutors also filed an aggravated kidnapping charge against Robinson involving Trouten. They allege that he took her sometime between Feb. 12 and March 1 "by force and or threat and or deception with the intent to inflict bodily injury."
The charges allege Lewicka was killed on or after Oct. 1, 1999.
Lewicka, a Polish immigrant who had been living in Overland Park, had been missing since last fall, authorities said. She was 21 when she disappeared. Detectives identified her Monday as one of the victims on the Linn County land.
The charges allege that the killings of Trouten and Lewicka were premeditated and occurred in Johnson County.
The murder and kidnapping charges were added to the case that was filed against Robinson earlier this month in sexual assaults against two other women who allegedly met Robinson on the Internet and came to the Kansas City area for sadomasochistic sexual encounters.
Robinson has been held in the Johnson County Jail on $5 million bond since his arrest June 2. His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday at the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe, at which time the new charges will be formally presented to him.
Although the bodies were discovered in Linn County, under Kansas law, murder charges can be brought in Johnson County if it can be proved that the two women were killed there or the "chain of events" that led to their deaths began there, Morrison said.
Investigators are still pursuing leads, but they don't feel they are on the cusp of finding more bodies, Morrison said. The Lenexa-based task force -- about 30 investigators from several agencies -- probably will disband in a few days, he said.
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