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What you need to know for 10/17/2017

Suicide note key to trial in Schenectady child molestation case

Suicide note key to trial in Schenectady child molestation case

A suicide note is now at the center of the rape and murder case against a Schenectady man..

The last thing Herman Robinson remembered before passing out was seeing the pills, swallowing them and then locking himself in his car.

It was Dec. 10, 2013, and Robinson was trying to kill himself.

“He said he got the pills, started swallowing and wrote the note with a fancy pen. He said he wrote the note on paper with lines on it,” according to an account of Robinson’s recorded conversation with police three days later. “He said that in it, he apologized to [the girl] and said he would try to make it up.”

That suicide note is now at the center of the rape and murder case against Robinson.

Robinson is facing trial on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree rape. He is accused of raping a girl almost continually from 2006 to December 2013, fathering a child with her in March 2010, then killing the newborn girl.

The account of Robinson’s conversation with police and district attorney’s investigators came in a judge’s ruling on the admissibility of the conversation at trial. Robinson’s attorney argued the statement wasn’t voluntary, that police questioned him while he was medicated. Prosecutors argued it was voluntary and that he answered all questions appropriately.

Judicial Hearing Officer Michael C. Eidens ruled the statement admissible, and Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago adopted the ruling.

Throughout the police interview, conducted in Robinson’s room in the Intensive Care Unit at Ellis Hospital, Robinson never mentions the existence of a baby. He also denied ever touching the girl.

The case is being prosecuted by Tracey Brunecz of the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office. Brunecz said that while the statement at issue in the ruling did not include direct admissions to the crimes charged, there are still “a lot” of comments useful to the prosecution.

“Amongst those is the fact that he did admit to writing the suicide note,” Brunecz said.

The contents of the note have not been released, but Brunecz did confirm the note is “pretty much what started everything.”

The baby’s body remains missing, Brunecz said.

City police Detective Joseph McCabe and district attorney’s investigator Anthony Brown conducted the interview of Robinson. There is no video of the questioning because it was done in the hospital. Instead, McCabe recorded the interview with a hand-held digital recorder secreted in a bag.

A conference in the case is scheduled for next month, when the judge could set a trial date. Robinson remains in custody.

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