Tabari Robinson may not have been a likeable person, but he didn’t deserve to die by being shot 19 times at close range by an assailant who was wielding a weapon designed to be used in a war, a prosecutor told jurors today. In her closing argument in the trial of Elliot Roberts, 22, and his father, 47-year-old Alfred Roberts, prosecutor Joni Leventis accused their lawyers of trying to trash Robinson’s reputation so jurors won’t convict the Roberts of murder. Referring to Robinson, 23, who was killed at the corner of Ninth and Wood streets in Oakland at about 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2006, Leventis said, “You may not like the way he lived his life, but he deserved to still be living.” Elliot Roberts admitted on the witness stand last week that he shot and killed Robinson but said he acted in self-defense because he thought Robinson was going to grab the barrel of his assault rifle and shoot him in the face. Roberts, who conceded that he sold marijuana and crack cocaine, also said it seemed like Robinson “was running into the bullets” that came out of the assault rifle after he started firing. Leventis said Robinson was “a bully” who’d been in trouble with the law and he shouldn’t have taken $1,400 from a friend of Roberts who was holding the cash for safekeeping while Roberts passed out from drinking too much. Robinson thought that Roberts owed him some of that money because
another friend of Roberts hadn’t paid for a used car that he bought from Robinson, according to testimony in the case. But Leventis said Roberts was the aggressor in the shooting because he had his father drive him from their Berkeley home to Ninth and Wood streets in Oakland so he could confront Robinson at gunpoint outside his grandmother’s home. “The defendant (Elliot Roberts) can’t go there with a gun, point it at Robinson and claim self-defense,” Leventis said.” Alfred Roberts is also charged with murder because he’s accused of driving his son to and from the scene and knowing that his son planned to gun down Robinson. His lawyer, Sidney Glass, told jurors today that Alfred Roberts had no idea his son was carrying a 2-foot-long assault rifle when he drove him to Oakland. Leventis said the assault rifle was so powerful that it was “meant for war.” William Cole, Elliot Roberts’ lawyer, alleged that prosecution witnesses “conspired to lie” about whether Robinson was armed with a gun when Roberts shot and killed him. Cole said two prison inmates came forward to testify that they saw a woman take a gun away from Robinson’s body after he was shot because they are “offended if someone comes into court and lies.” Referring to the checkered backgrounds of most of the people involved in the case, Cole said, “There are limits even among this crowd
about lines that no one should cross.” But Leventis said the testimony by the two prison inmates is suspect because they didn’t come forward until nearly three years after the shooting and there’s no proof they were at the scene. She also said that even if Robinson was carrying a gun at the time “he was well within his rights to pull it out” in self-defense because he wasn’t the aggressor in the incident. Jurors began deliberating the Roberts’ fate late today. They will resume their deliberations Wednesday morning.
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