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Anthony Robinson

Other Cook County, Illinois homicide cases
At about 2:30 p.m. on January 1, 2013, 28-year-old Kelvin Jemison and 17-year-old Dwayne Rolle were walking near the Washington Park Homes public housing development at Calumet Avenue and 43rd Street in Chicago, Illinois when they noticed that a black Chevrolet Cobalt had circled the block and driven by them. As it passed them for the third time, the car made an abrupt U-turn and screeched to a halt in front of them. A man got out and began shooting at them.

As Jemison and Rolle fled, the gunman ran after them firing gunshots. Eventually, Jemison fell to the ground while Rolle ran away. The gunman stood over Jemison and shot him again before he sprinted back to the car, and the car sped off. Police recovered several .40-caliber shell casings from the scene.

Although several witnesses saw the shooting from various spots and provided general descriptions of the shooter, no one could provide a name. However, Chicago police detective Roger Murphy would later report that Jemison’s ex-girlfriend and her mother told him that men they knew as “Twan” and “B.A.” were involved. Murphy then compiled photographic lineups that included the photographs of 18-year-old Antwoine "Twan" Hill and 20-year-old Anthony Robinson, whose nickname was “B.A.”

Three witnesses to the shooting viewed the photographs, but did not make an identification. Police located Tikiea Poa, who viewed the lineup and said she recognized Robinson as the driver of a black car she saw in the neighborhood about an hour before she heard gunshots.

Police finally located Rolle on January 8, 2013. He said he had not come forward because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Police said Rolle identified Robinson as the shooter after viewing the photo array.

On February 14, 2013, Rolle gave a videotaped statement to a prosecutor during which he identified Robinson as the gunman. Rolle also identified Hill as well as 18-year-old Clyde Jackson as being in the car from which Robinson emerged. He said they acted as lookouts.

That same day, police arrested Robinson, Hill, and Jackson on charges of murder, attempted murder, and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

On February 24, 2013, Rolle viewed a live lineup and again identified Robinson, Hill, and Jackson. When Poa viewed the live lineup, she was unable to identify anyone.

Police recovered a security video from the Washington Park Homes. The video system was motion-activated and showed Jemison and Rolle running away while the gunman ran after them.

In December 2013, the defense filed a motion to produce a copy of the entire video after one of the defense lawyers discovered that portions of the video were missing. The prosecution acknowledged that the video was not complete. One segment, lasting one minute and 20 seconds, was missing from the middle of the video. The beginning of the video, which would have shown the car with the gunmen emerging, also was missing.

A defense motion to dismiss the charges for destruction of evidence was denied. A separate motion was filed asking Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Obbish to draw an inference that the missing video was exculpatory for the defendants. That motion was denied as well.

On December 2, 2014, Robinson, Hill, and Jackson went to trial before Judge Obbish. They chose to have the judge decide the case without a jury.

Rolle took the witness stand, and when asked to identify the perpetrators of the crime, he said they were not in the courtroom. He recanted his identifications of Robinson, Hill, and Jackson. He said he did not see the shooting because he turned and ran as soon as the car pulled to a halt. He testified that the detectives pointed out Robinson, Hill, and Jackson and “made it seem like they were the shooters, so I went along with them.”

He said he went along with the detectives because he was “17 at the time, dumb,” and was nervous.

The prosecution played the surveillance video during Rolle’s testimony. He admitted that the shooter did not have dreadlocks. When arrested, Robinson had thick, shoulder-length dreadlocks.

Rolle testified that he “couldn’t even tell the truth before” and that he had lied in his videotaped statement. He insisted he was telling the truth at trial. Rolle testified that the shooting took place two years before and he did not remember the details. The “only thing” he knew for a fact was that they didn’t kill him. Rolle testified that he did not see the shooter and only ever identified Robinson as someone he “knew.”

Ultimately the prosecution was allowed to introduce Rolle’s videotaped police statement as well as his testimony to the grand jury during which he implicated Robinson, Hill, and Jackson.

The defense and prosecution stipulated that Poa would testify that on the day of the shooting, she saw a black car with three occupants about an hour before the shooting and later heard gunshots, that she identified Robinson as the car’s driver in a photographic array, and that when she viewed the live lineup, “she could not identify anyone with certainty” because two of the men looked “so much alike.” She indicated the driver of the car that she saw an hour before the shooting was either in the second or third position. Robinson was in the third position.

Other stipulations were entered saying that .40-caliber cartridges were found at the scene, and the cartridges had been linked through the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) to a handgun that had been associated with another individual who had not been charged in the case.

John Hall, a security analyst for the Chicago Housing Authority, testified that the cameras that produced the video footage were motion-activated. He was unable to explain why the video began with the men already down the sidewalk. He suggested it was possible that the gap in the video was caused when the time limit for the camera to record was reached.

The prosecution introduced medical evidence showing that Jemison died of multiple gunshot wounds.

At the close of the prosecution’s case, Judge Obbish granted defense motions to acquit Jackson and Hill. The judge denied a similar motion brought on behalf of Robinson.

The defense called Tameka Mingo, who testified that she heard the gunshots, looked around the corner of a dumpster, and saw people running. She got into her car for protection. She said she saw the gunman and described him as dark, with short hair, a thin build, and a little shorter than her son, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall. Robinson was 5 feet 7 inches tall. Mingo said she was certain the gunman was not in the courtroom.

Lakesha Joseph testified she was 10 feet away from the shooting, standing in front of the door to her apartment. She said the gunman was 6 feet 1 inch tall, with no visible hair because of a hoodie. She said it was clear, however, that the gunman did not have dreadlocks. She said the gunman was taller than Robinson. Joseph did not identify anyone in the courtroom as the gunman.

On December 12, 1994, Judge Obbish convicted Robinson of first-degree murder and acquitted him of attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm. The judge relied on Rolle’s videotaped statement and his grand jury testimony. The judge said that Rolle’s trial court testimony was “absolutely incredibly unbelievable.” Judge Obbish said that the defense witnesses were not credible. “They were terrible witnesses,” the judge said.

Prior to sentencing, a motion for a new trial asserted that the judge had erroneously barred the defense from attempting to elicit information that the real killer was Shedrick McPherson, also known as “40.” That motion was denied. The judge sentenced Robinson to 55 years in prison.

In 2017, the First District Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Robinson’s conviction and sentence.

In 2018, Robinson, acting as his own lawyer, filed a post-conviction petition claiming that his trial defense lawyer had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to call two alibi witnesses, Denzell Stewart and Kenneth Bell.

Bell said in affidavit that he, Stewart, who was his brother, and Robinson, who was Bell’s cousin, were playing video games in Bell’s bedroom from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the day of the shooting. Bell said that at the time, Robinson had a leg injury from a gunshot wound and “could barely stand up straight unless on crutches.”

Stewart said in his affidavit that all three of them were playing video games at 2:45 p.m., when the shooting occurred.

On June 29, 2018, Judge Obbish dismissed the petition as frivolous and without merit. In November 2020, the First District Illinois Appellate Court reversed that ruling and remanded the case back to the trial court for a hearing.

Subsequently, attorney Lauren Myerscough-Mueller at the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School began representing Robinson. Ultimately, she obtained Robinson’s medical records, which showed that he had been shot in the leg a few months prior to this crime. His leg was shattered. He had several surgeries, the last of which was just a few weeks before the crime. Although he had told police about this at the time he was arrested, and he told his lawyer, no one had investigated. The x-rays of his leg showed that Robinson was incapable of running after the victims as the surveillance video had shown.

In August 2023, Myerscough-Mueller filed a supplement to Robinson’s pending pro se post-conviction petition along with an expert report finding that it “would be impossible” for Robinson to have committed the crime. Dr. Paul Goodman examined Robinson’s medical records which showed that Robinson had been shot multiple times in his right foot and left leg on September 12, 2012, less than three months before the shooting of Jemison.

Dr. Goodman noted that Robinson’s tibia and fibula bones had been shattered, requiring multiple surgeries. Pins were drilled into the bone and connected to rods outside the leg to hold the bones in place.

The supplement also said that assistant public defender Caroline Glennon, who had represented Jackson at trial, had provided an affidavit saying that her investigation showed that McPherson was the true gunman. Glennon found two witnesses who implicated McPherson, but refused to give a formal statement for fear of retaliation. In December 2014, Glennon said that she spoke to McPherson and that he said it “didn’t sit right with him that people were sitting in jail for something he did, but he didn’t want to go down for it.” McPherson had originally said he would testify that he knew none of the defendants were in the black Chevrolet because he was in the car. At the last minute, McPherson changed his mind and refused to testify.

The supplement also included affidavits from four different witnesses, all of whom said that McPherson had confessed to them that he killed Jemison for being a “snitch.”

By then, McPherson was dead. In July 2017, he had been fatally shot in a drive-by shooting on Chicago’s south side.

In February 2024, after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office had reviewed the evidence, the prosecution asked Judge Obbish to vacate Robinson’s conviction. On April 8, 2024, Obbish did so. The prosecution dismissed the case, and Robinson was released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 4/22/2024
Last Updated: 4/22/2024
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2013
Sentence:55 years
Age at the date of reported crime:20
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No