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Friday, July 25, 2014

Court upholds murder ruling

Sunday, December 15, 2002

SPRINGFIELD -- A trial judge didn't err in excluding second-hand testimony a former Sikeston man said could have cleared him of murder, a state appeals panel has ruled.

A Scott County jury convicted David Lee Robinson of first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the Aug. 5, 2000, shooting death of Sheila Box of Sikeston. Robinson was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. He never will be eligible for parole.

In his appeal, Robinson said circuit court Judge Fred W. Copeland shouldn't have barred the jury from hearing the testimony of Romance Mosby. Outside of the jury's presence, Mosby told the court that while an inmate at the Boonville Correctional Center in June 2001, his cousin, Carlos Jones, had confessed to killing Box.

The details of Mosby's story changed several times, and Copeland ruled his statements weren't reliable enough to be admitted under the narrow exceptions to the ban on hearsay testimony.

In a decision made public Friday, a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District unanimously agreed that Mosby's testimony didn't meet the legal threshold for a hearsay exception and wasn't supported by other evidence. The court also said Robinson hadn't proved Jones was unavailable to personally testify about his alleged confession.

According to the facts as set forth in the ruling, Box had stopped at a drive-up pay phone in an area of Sikeston known as "The Bottoms" to call her fiancée. Robinson approached the driver's side of the vehicle and shot her twice. Box was later taken to a hospital where she died during surgery.

Box had been carrying three money bags containing $300 in cash and checks -- the day's receipts from the restaurant she managed. The bags were not found in the vehicle, though some loose cash was.

Three of Robinson's relatives testified at trial that he was at a family gathering at the time of the crime. However, one eyewitness said he saw Robinson shoot Box and another placed him near the scene around the time.

Robinson, 34, is incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center.