A plea offer is on the table for Herman Robinson, who is accused of repeatedly raping a girl, impregnating her and then killing the newborn baby.
If Robinson wanted to plead guilty, prosecutor Tracey Brunecz said in court Wednesday that the prosecution would accept a sentence of no less than 33 years to life in prison. That sentence would consist of the maximum sentence of 25 years to life for murder in the killing of the baby and an additional eight years for first-degree rape of the girl.
Judge Michael V. Coccoma did not require the defense to respond to the offer Wednesday, and neither Robinson nor his attorney, Sven Paul, reacted to it in court.
If Robinson rejects the offer and presses the case to trial, it will likely be a non-jury trial. Paul indicated in court Wednesday that he has spoken with his client about the possibility of forgoing a jury and having the case heard and decided by only the judge, and that is what Robinson wants.
Coccoma set a date for next week for Robinson to formally request a bench trial.
Defendants often forgo jury trials in cases that are complicated or are expected to elicit strong emotional reactions by jurors.
Robinson is accused of raping the girl beginning in 2006, when she was 11, and continuing through December 2013. In March 2010, prosecutors allege, he helped the girl deliver the baby, then took the baby and killed it.
No one other than the girl and Robinson are believed to have known about the pregnancy or the birth and death of the baby, prosecutors have said. The baby’s existence wasn’t learned until this past December, when Robinson left a suicide note and tried to kill himself. Authorities then interviewed the girl, and Robinson was eventually charged.
If convicted of all the charges lodged against him, the 38-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison. The plea deal offered Wednesday, if he were to accept it, would allow him at least the chance of someday getting out of prison — he would be 71 at his first parole hearing.
There was a chance a trial date could have been set Wednesday, but delays caused by a DNA request prevented that. Brunecz told Coccoma Wednesday she intends to make a formal motion to obtain a sample of Robinson’s DNA for comparison to evidence in the case. She did not elaborate on that evidence.
Prosecutors already had a sample of Robinson’s DNA, obtained early on through a search warrant signed by a City Court judge, Brunecz said. But her reading of court rulings in other cases suggests the defense should have been notified of the original request.
She formally notified the defense of her new request Wednesday, but the process of motions on the issue — and, if granted, the new lab analysis — could together take about two months to complete, officials said.
Robinson remains in jail