Convicted Murderer's Past, Mental Health Take Center Stage in Court

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The prosecution's push for the death penalty for convicted College Station murderer Stanley Robertson continued Monday, and the killer's wife was among those testifying before the defense began its case to spare Robertson's life.

Before closing its case pending rebuttal witnesses, the State of Texas called Roschelle Robertson, Stanley's wife of 14 years, to discuss their relationship. Stanley left Alabama for Texas in 2008 to pursue work. Roschelle discussed rocky times before he left Alabama, including one occasion where he threatened to kill her. She also noted that he lied to her about being in a relationship with Tammy Toliver.

Thursday, Stanley Robertson, 45, was found guilty of capital murder after about two hours of deliberation by the jury.

In August 2010, he attacked Tammy's mother, Annie Toliver, in the parking lot of the College Station Walmart, stabbed her more than 30 times, eventually dumped her body in Fort Worth, then led police there on a chase that ended with him slamming intentionally into an officer's patrol car.

Robertson told police and Tammy that she was the catalyst for his actions. Robertson had been arrested in July 2010, accused of holding a knife to Tammy's throat in front of her children, then holding her hostage. Robertson said because Tammy hadn't visited him in jail or returned his calls, he was exacting revenge by attacking her mother.

The jury has two options for punishment: life in prison without parole, or the death penalty.

Monday afternoon, the defense began its presentation, arguing that Robertson is mentally retarded, and thus unable to be executed by ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. Attorney John Wright said Robertson grew up in extreme poverty in the cotton fields of Alabama, his mother exposed to pesticides that could have affected his development. Wright said Robertson had very little education, and also fell into the wrong crowd once he got to Texas.

The defense first called Roschelle Robertson's daughter, Mercedes, who testified that Stanley was a father figure for her and her two brothers, whose father wasn't present. They called Stanley "Dad," and he helped them with their education until it got too difficult for him. Mercedes says she passed Stanley by junior high school.

On cross examination Monday morning, Roschelle also discussed Stanley's education deficiencies. Roschelle talked about how Stanley tried to get a GED, but failed. It took him a month to learn how to write a check, and he didn't initially understand how to use a phone book. She also helped him with job applications.

Stanley did have a nine-year employment stint at an Alabama cabinet company among other jobs, but came to Texas because he said he had nephews that could help him with work there.

Also testifying Monday morning for the State was the sister of Robertson's ex-girlfriend, who claims in 1994, Robertson raped her after a night out. The woman was dating Robertson's brother at the time.

The afternoon was filled with testimony from siblings of Robertson discussing the hard work in the farm fields and the pesticides that were ever present. A deposition from Robertson's dying mother was also played for the jury. All family members said they were a close-knit group.

Also, an official with an Alabama school district who happened to attend school with Robertson discussed files pertaining to Robertson's education. While many were destroyed in a scheduled purging of old documents, the school employee said Robertson's file was marked to indicate he had mental deficiencies, but he was not classified as mentally retarded. She confirmed that Robertson took special education classes while in school.

Roschelle Robertson, Stanley's wife, testifies