For allegedly kidnapping and murdering his ex-girlfriend's mother -- an act followed by a police chase and car crash between suspect and officer -- Brazos County prosecutors will seek a guilty verdict and the death penalty for College Station's Stanley Robertson.
The trial of the 45-year-old begins Monday at 9:00 a.m. in the 85th District Court. It will mark the fourth Brazos County capital murder trial since 2009 in which prosecutors will seek the ultimate punishment.
On August 13, 2010, authorities say Robertson stabbed and kidnapped Annie Mae Toliver as she sat in the College Station WalMart's parking lot, continued to attack her with a knife on the road to Fort Worth, dumped her body in that city, then led police on a chase, one which ended with Robertson slamming his SUV into a patrol car. The officer was injured, but survived.
Annie Toliver was the mother of Robertson's ex-girlfriend, Tammy Toliver. In July 2010, Robertson had been arrested and charged with aggravated assault after threatening Tammy with a knife. He bonded out of jail on August 1, just days before the murder.
According to police, Robertson admitted to kidnapping and killing Annie Toliver to get back at his ex. Recordings of phone conversations between Robertson and Tammy while he drove with a wounded Annie are expected to be presented as evidence. Robertson also admitted to the murder while hospitalized after the Fort Worth wreck, according to police.
If the defendant's lawyers aren't able to over come the evidence against their client, the jury will have two choices on punishment: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.
Seven women and seven men make up the jury in this case, selected over weeks of individual interviews with lawyers for both sides. Two jurors are alternates, but they will not know who they are until it comes time to deliberate.
Should the punishment phase be needed, the court-appointed lawyers for Robertson, John Wright and Frank Blazek, will reportedly argue that their client is mentally unfit and Constitutionally ineligible to be put to death.
In Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing people with diagnosed mental retardation is cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are three prongs of mental retardation that must be met:
- an IQ below 70, or below 75 within a margin of error
- clear deficiencies in adaptive behavior
- the low IQ and deficiencies clearly showing up before the age of 18
The defense in the last Brazos County capital murder employed the same strategy in the punishment phase. Stanley Griffin's lawyers were unsuccessful in convincing the jury that Griffin was mentally retarded, and he was eventually sentenced to die for the September 2010 murder of Jennifer Hailey in her College Station home. He has an automatic appeal, as do all defendants sentenced to death.
Robertson's trial is expected to take at least two weeks if a guilty verdict is reached, though the guilt-innocence phase could be done before the first week is done.
Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons and Assistant District Attorney Brian Price will prosecute the case.