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Schenectady rape, baby murder trial begins

Schenectady rape, baby murder trial begins

The teenage girl in the throes of childbirth forced herself to not scream, a prosecutor told a judge
Schenectady rape, baby murder trial begins
Herman Robinson, at table right, with his attorney Sven Paul in Schenectady County Court Monday, April 6, 2015. Robinson is standing trial on rape and murder charges. Prosecutor Tracy Brunecz is standing.
Photographer: Steven Cook/Gazette reporter

The teenage girl in the throes of childbirth forced herself to not scream, a prosecutor told a judge Monday morning.

It was March 11, 2010, and the girl was secretly giving birth in her Albany Street residence. The only other person with her was her rapist — the baby’s father — Herman Robinson, prosecutor Tracy Brunecz said.

Brunecz said Robinson had repeatedly raped the girl for years. Brunecz spoke in her opening statements at Robinson’s child rape and baby murder trial in Schenectady County Court.

“You’ll hear that after the child began crying, the father of the child, placed his hand over the mouth of the baby and then smashed its head on the floor. And how the baby no longer cried,” Brunecz told Judge Michael Coccoma.

“You’ll hear how [the teenage girl] cradled her child and she could see that it was a baby girl,” Brunecz said. “And the baby was now dead.”

Robinson, 38, is accused fathering a child through the repeated rape of a 14-year-old girl. He then is accused of killing the baby shortly after its birth and disposing of the body.

Prosecutors allege only Robinson and his victim knew of her pregnancy and the birth until December 2013. That’s when Robinson attempted suicide in his home and left a suicide note that launched the investigation that led to the revelation of the child’s brief existence.

The case is being heard by Coccoma alone. Robinson chose against having a jury hear the emotional and jarring allegations and rendering judgment. Robinson’s attorney Sven Paul declined to give an opening statement.

Brunecz told Coccoma that Robinson began raping the girl when she was 11. Brunecz said the girl endured direct and indirect threats, but she didn’t tell anyone.

The girl became pregnant by Robinson in 2009, and he saw no way for her to get a legal abortion because he believed the rape would be exposed, Brunecz said.

Instead, he tried to induce an abortion on his own, she said.

Brunecz gave the following account:

Robinson would push on her midsection and punch her. He also tried a coat hanger. Despite Robinson’s efforts, the pregnancy continued. The girl progressively wore baggier and baggier clothes to hide the pregnancy. She also had to make up stories so no one would learn what was actually happening.

On March 11, 2010, the girl went into labor. Robinson drove her around in a car. He pushed on her stomach to try to make it go faster. They finally arrived back at Albany Street. Others were in the home unaware.

“She forced herself not to scream out in pain,” Brunecz said.

After the baby was born and Robinson killed it, he left and returned with a garbage bag. He placed bloody towels, bed sheets, clothing and the lifeless baby inside the bag and carried them out, Brunecz said.

He only told the girl that he buried the baby under or near some rocks. The body was never recovered.

What was recovered more than three and a half years after the birth, Brunecz told the judge, was DNA. Brunecz has previously said that DNA was recovered from the carpet in the apartment and the bed that originally was there.

That DNA profile, Brunecz told the judge, was that of a girl whose mother was the rape victim and father was Robinson.

After the baby’s birth and death, the sexual abuse by Robinson continued, Brunecz said. It continued even after the girl went off to college.

It wasn’t until Dec. 10, 2013 that the abuse, the existence of the baby and the baby’s short life began to come to light, the prosecutor said. That’s when, Brunecz said, the victim set herself free.

She did so in a text message, the same form of communication Robinson had used with her previously when she was away. She confronted him. She said the abuse would end.

Robinson responded by hand-writing out a suicide note and leaving it in a bedroom of his Lenox Road residence, Brunecz said. He then tried to kill himself in his car. A call from his worried wife led to police and paramedics arriving.

According to testimony from police and paramedics Monday afternoon, Robinson was found in a car in the rear of the residence unresponsive and close to death.

They determined he had overdosed on morphine and hydrocodone, which are opiates. First responders administered the opiate-blocking drug Narcan. His breathing improved, but he remained unconscious. He was taken to Ellis Hospital, where he recovered under guard.

In questioning of paramedics and police officers, Paul focused on the suicide note, highlighting that police seized it without a warrant. Prosecutors focused on the initial suicide investigation, with witnesses saying a warrant wasn’t needed.

The contents of the note have yet to be entered into evidence.

Testimony is expected to continue today. Robinson remains in custody.

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