Family members of slain 8-year-old Hiawayi Robinson were on both sides of the courtroom as two $250,000 cash bonds were set for the victim’s father, who was charged with felony murder and first degree sodomy in relation to his daughter’s death.
Hiawatha Robinson Jr. was arrested and charged on Tuesday, but for unknown reasons was not charged with capital murder, which would have prevented him from receiving a bond.
Following his arrest, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich suggested Robinson caused his daughter’s death while “engaging in sodomy,” but details about the case were not discussed at the time. That lack of detail was also the basis for District Judge Bob Sherling’s decision to grant bonds for Robinson’s charges, against the wishes of Rich and the other prosecutors.
Sherling said the Alabama Constitution requires anyone who is arrested and not charged with capital murder to be granted a bond, with a few exceptions. For clarity, he also held up a enlarged sign containing the specific language he was referring to.
“Even though he’s not charged with capital murder, the Supreme Court has said if it could possibly become a capital murder charge, then I can deny bail,” Sherling said. “Is there evidence to support that?”
As stated previously, Rich said there wasn’t evidence to suggest capital charges currently, and said the prosecution wasn’t yet prepared to discuss the details of the case. The same response was given when Sherling asked if the “sodomy directly resulted in the murder.”
Sherling did allow the prosecution to take more time before the bond hearing proceeded, but Rich denied the offer saying, “During the course of the sodomy, the death occurred. That is exactly how the complaint is charged, but we’re not prepared to go into a hearing on that matter at this point.”
“If you don’t want to offer the evidence to support that, then i’m going to be in a position where I have to set a bond,” Sherling said. “I would have to have some kind of evidence to connect the two (in order to deny a bond).”
With no evidence offered, the state requested a $250,000 cash bond for each charge, which Sherling granted.
With that in mind, Rich said her office believes Robinson is a “danger to the community,” because he has three prior felony convictions and is looking at a punishment of life or life without the possibility of parole.
“This defendant has no permanent place where he lives,” Rich said. “He continually moves from place to place. He owns a home in Prichard that’s not inhabitable, but because of that lack of residence we consider him to be a flight risk.”
Sherling and Robinson’s appointed attorney, Arthur Powell, said the court was obligated to grant a bond because of the lack of evidence to support a capital murder charge. Sherling also suggested there was some misunderstanding of the process to the average citizen.
“I’d hope that at some point the media would take some interest in this point and try to educate the public,” he said. “Because every time we have a bond hearing, the judges down here get crucified for setting a bond.”
Following the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Jill Phillips said the DA’s office didn’t want a bond, but did say, “if a bond is going to be set, that’s certainly a high one.”
As for the lack of evidence presented, Phillips said her office didn’t want to jeopardize the case by disclose facts in such an early stage of the process.
“Today was a day for a bond hearing and not for testimony to be taken,” Phillips said. “This has been an extensive, ongoing investigation, and it is still ongoing. There is still investigative work that’s being done as we speak, and because of that, we’re not going to comment on the facts of the case until it’s required of us at the preliminary hearing.”
A preliminary hearing for the case has been set for Jan. 5, 2015 in Mobile.