By Lois Yoo and Tatiana Gasca
ALAMEDA, CA – Marius Dante Robinson’s jury trial on murder and related charges reconvened here Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court, and featured tense conversations between the judge and defense attorney. And a witness who refused to answer questions.
Robinson has been charged with 25 counts including: possession of a firearm by a felon (with prior conviction), great bodily injury, use of and assault with a firearm, second degree robbery, and murder.
The incident occurred on July 2, 2020, when the victim ran into an altercation with the defendant’s wife. When the defendant became aware of the dispute, he became angry and allegedly went to go look for the victim.
The prosecution claims Robinson carried a firearm and his wife brought a hammer. It was alleged that the defendant shot the male victim, who passed away at the scene of the crime.
Judge Andrew Steckler asked a first witness the extent of their involvement, what did they see and other questions. And finally, the judge asked the witness if they were going to take “the 5th” (the right to refuse to answer questions because of possible self-incrimination).
The witness answered none of the judge’s questions. The prosecutor noted the witness admitted to driving a vehicle that was connected to the case. It was alleged that someone had gotten out of the vehicle and shot the victim.
However, the witness remained uncooperative and the judge dismissed him.
Robinson’s defense attorney, Joseph Penrod, raised legal issues as he requested to have photographic evidence excluded from the case.
Judge Steckler responded, “If they present this evidence, it’s conceivable your counter evidence from the technician’s photos and from the other officer’s observation…is maybe…laughable? Maybe. So why would exclusion from this evidence be a potential error?”
Penrod became agitated by the judge’s remark, and noted there was a significant difference in strike pattern and bullet marks, adding, “I’ve been there. With a jury review? That’s the same one!”
“You’re yelling at me again,” replied Judge Steckler, asking, “Can you just identify it again? Just for the record, what am I looking at? What’s the photo? Your photo? Ok. Point to the strike mark.”
Penrod attempted to explain the image that appeared on the screen. However, Judge Steckler fired back, “Don’t answer more than I’ve asked.”
After reviewing the photographic evidence, Judge Steckler denied Penrod’s request and continued with Robinson’s case.
The court learned a search warrant was issued for Robinson’s home, where they found an AR-15 rifle and Ecstasy pills. Robinson claimed to not know anything about the items.
When the defendant was brought to the stand, he claimed he was sleeping before the incident had occurred. He woke up and went to the grocery store to get some coffee.
When he saw his wife with a hammer, Robinson said he felt “worried,” and asked her, “What’s going on? What are you doing with a hammer?”
His wife told him, “Don’t worry about it. I got it.”
He said as he was driving up the street to pick up his son, a car turned toward him. At that moment, he heard gunfire. He said, “I just put my car in reverse and gassed it,” instead of driving ahead and possibly getting shot.