Facebook Twitter

JURY FINDS MAN GUILTY IN BRUTAL 1991 SLAYING

SHARE JURY FINDS MAN GUILTY IN BRUTAL 1991 SLAYING

Jurors deliberated less than four hours Wednesday before they proclaimed Jerry Lee Robertson guilty of murder and theft in the 1991 brutal claw-hammer slaying of 56-year-old Gerald Thomas.

Robertson had spent two years at the Utah State Hospital since the slaying, but earlier this year a judge determined he had been faking his mental illness. "The jurors were also convinced that it was all an act," said deputy Salt Lake County attorney Howard Lemcke.Robertson, 28, will be sentenced Aug. 1 before 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy. In addition to prison time, Lemcke said, he will recommend that Robertson pay a large amount of restitution for his stint in the hospital.

Cassie Robertson, 23, the defendant's ex-wife, is serving a 5-years-to-life sentence for her role in the beating death of Thomas in early November of 1991. Both robbed Thomas after killing him.

But most of the trial focused on the credibility of Cassie Robertson's testimony.

Lemcke admitted that his main witness had given inconsistent versions of the killing but encouraged jurors to use common sense and concentrate on the consistent elements of her testimony.

The Robertsons were houseguests of Thomas and had spent the evening drinking and playing Monopoly. The trio got into a fight after a game, and the Robertsons later plotted to kill Thomas or knock him out in order to steal his money, Lemcke said.

Cassie Robertson said that after Thomas fell asleep, Jerry Robertson, who was then her husband, told her to get the hammer and hit Thomas. She hit the man in the head, but he woke up and yelled.

She gave the claw hammer to Jerry Robertson, who hit Thomas over the head at least 11 times. "Jerry goes over there feeling that his cohort hasn't done the job as good as he wanted," Lemcke said.

Jerry Robertson even put a blanket over the victim's head during some of the final blows so his wife wouldn't have to see the trauma.

Defense attorney Mary Cor-por-on reminded the jury of a statement from a police lieutenant that Cassie Robertson is a "pathological liar" and said most of her testimony is unbelievable.

Cassie Robertson first swore she never touched the victim, later admitted hitting him, later denied it, then admitted hitting him again.

Corporon also pointed to testimony from Vickie Gregory, a neuropsychologist who testified that Jerry Robertson is retarded and has organic brain disorder. "She said he doesn't have the reasoning ability to form an intent to commit murder," Corporon said during closing arguments.

Other psychiatrists however, testified that Jerry Robertson was faking a mental illness for two years at the state mental hospital to avoid trial. The judge agreed with them earlier this year and vacated his previous finding that Robertson was incompetent.

But Gregory disagreed with the hospital's testing procedures and still believes he is mentally ill and was not faking, Corporon said.

The defense attorney also presented an elaborate explanation of the homicide, explaining that the plot was too complicated for her client but not for Cassie Robertson, who really struck all of the blows.

She questioned whether any man would "send their wife to get into physical combat." She also speculated that Cassie must have panicked when the victim woke up after the first blow because she must have thought the victim would just pass out as in the movies and Roadrunner cartoons.

She even offered that perhaps her client woke up to victim's screams and saw his wife in a struggle with Thomas and perhaps then hit him over the head to defend her.

But Lemcke called Corporon's explanations "terrific theater" and "imagination."

He questioned how Jerry Robertson could be considered retarded and incompetent when he worked as a cashier at the hospital, ran a small-time loan shark business there, finished 10th grade and described how to break into cars and steal them.