Man gets 9 years for robbing relative

Posted Dec. 11, 2008, at 7:30 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Lamoine man was sentenced Thursday to serve nine years behind bars for the January 2005 robbery of his grandmother.

Steven Wayne Robbins, 39, received an overall sentence of 15 years with all but nine years suspended for the crime, in which he and another person broke into his grandmother’s Buttermilk Road home in Lamoine while she slept, handcuffed her, put a pillowcase over her head, and made off with a safe containing several thou-sand dollars in cash.

Justice Kevin Cuddy, presiding in Hancock County Superior Court, also imposed a probation term of six years after Robbins is released and a restitution order of $10,001. The jury found that Robbins had stolen more than $10,000 from his grandmother, Cuddy said, but it was unclear how much more money beyond that, if any, was in the safe at the time of the robbery.

Carletta Bassano, deputy district attorney for Hancock County, told Cuddy that Robbins’ grandmother testified that the safe contained $25,000 in cash. The reason she initially told police it contained $2,000 was because of the shock of the robbery and because she had concerns, which proved to be unfounded, that she could stand to lose her Medicare benefits, Bassano said.

Robbins’ wife, Juanita Mullins, 36, who has also been charged in the crime but was acquitted after Cuddy determined there was not enough evidence to convict her, attended the sentencing with other members of Robbins’ family. Robbins’ grandmother sat with a small group of people on the other side of the courtroom gallery.

The grandmother did not address the court, but did provide a written statement that was read aloud to the judge by Bassano.

“My life is never going to be the same as it was before I was robbed,” Bassano read from the note. “I still wake up at nights thinking I am being smothered. You didn’t have to hold that pillow over my face.”

Bassano said Robbins knew his grandmother had health problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Her peace of mind and her security have been taken from her by someone she should have been able to depend on,” Bassano said of Robbins’ grandmother.

Bassano said after the proceeding that she had recommended a sentence for Robbins of 18 years with all but 10 years suspended. She said the sentence the judge imposed was “very appropriate.”

Robbins’ attorney, Ted Fletcher of Southwest Harbor, declined after the proceeding to comment on the sentence. He said that his client intends to appeal the conviction.

Mullins and Robbins were living in Danbury, Conn., at the time of the robbery. According to police, intruders broke into the grandmother’s home in the wee hours of Jan. 22, 2005, tied her legs together, handcuffed her and stole a safe from the floor of her bedroom closet. The woman did not get a good look at the robbers. After the intruders left, she was able to free her legs and then alert a neighbor by flashing an outdoor light and yelling across the road.

In the days immediately after the robbery, police said that whoever took the money appeared to have inside information about the victim and her house and so most likely knew her. Their attention quickly focused on Robbins after they discovered he had paid cash for a used truck just days after the robbery. Robbins initially told police he had bought the truck from his employer for $3,800 but they later found out he bought it from a dealer for $15,000.

Robbins and Mullins also gave different accounts of where they were the night of the robbery, according to police. Police said Robbins drove from Connecticut to Lamoine, stopping in Kittery to buy gasoline with his debit card, stole the safe and then traveled back to Massachusetts before noon the next day.

Robbins showed no emotion throughout the proceeding and chose not to address the court. Mullins, who did not speak in court or to the media, sat down on a courtroom bench and buried her face in her hands after her husband had been led off to jail to begin serving his sentence.

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