AUBURN — The sister of Buddy Robinson explained to the jury at his murder trial Wednesday how she had recruited the victim to work as an escort for her business.
Brandi Robinson testified in Androscoggin County Superior Court that her brother had moved into her upstairs apartment at 36 Highland Ave. at about the same time Christiana Fesmire, 22, moved into the downstairs apartment of the same building, which was in foreclosure.
Brandi Robinson, who was granted immunity from prosecution by the state, said she began working as an escort during the summer of 2010. By Christmas, she had started her own business, recruiting three women, including Fesmire, to work for her that winter and spring.
Robinson has told police that her brother confided in her about beating and drowning Fesmire, but defense attorney Edward “Ted” Dilworth III plans to pursue the theory that Brandi Robinson is an alternative suspect in the killing.
Fesmire went missing on July 1, 2011. Her body has not been recovered.
Brandi Robinson said Wednesday that she kept 40 percent of her escorts’ earnings, while the escorts retained 60 percent.
Robinson said Fesmire became more active in the business after breaking up with her boyfriend. In the late spring of 2011, Fesmire quit working after contracting a sexually transmitted infection, according to Robinson.
Robinson said she and Fesmire got along “fine,” despite a fight one night during an overnight escort trip in Massachusetts. She said Fesmire was emotionally overwrought about the suicide of a friend and drank too much. According to Robinson, Fesmire threw her cellphone at her and bit her finger.
But they reconciled, she said.
Three days before Fesmire went missing, Robinson gave her a ride to Fesmire’s parents’ home in Bremen. Two days later, Robinson said she got a text message from Fesmire, who was returning to her Highland Avenue apartment to pick up some belongings. Robinson picked up Fesmire at a friend’s home in Lewiston, and they had lunch. Then Robinson gave Fesmire a ride to another friend’s home in Lewiston.
The next morning, as Brandi Robinson and one of her escorts were about to leave her Highland Avenue apartment to get breakfast, Fesmire appeared. Fesmire was planning to drive to Rangeley for a family gathering, and Robinson had offered her car for the trip. Robinson told her the keys to her black Lexus sedan were in her apartment upstairs.
Buddy Robinson was in the upstairs apartment at the time.
Robinson said she and her worker were at a Dunkin’ Donuts when her cellphone rang. The caller ID read “Xtiana.” But it wasn’t Fesmire who was calling from Fesmire’s cellphone.
Wednesday’s testimony ended there. Robinson is expected to continue her testimony on Thursday, the third day of the trial.
Although she has implicated Buddy Robinson, which helped lead to his murder charge, Brandi Robinson told Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson on Wednesday that she loved her twin brother and was not happy about testifying against him.
She said that Buddy Robinson, who had a close relationship with her young son and had shared a bedroom with him, was angry when Fesmire disciplined the boy by hitting him on the back of the head while baby-sitting him. Buddy Robinson also was miffed that Fesmire had once left the boy alone while she was supposed to be watching him, Brandi Robinson said.
A Lewiston Police Department detective acknowledged under cross-examination from Dilworth on Wednesday that he had characterized Brandi Robinson as a “chronic liar.”
Detective Roland Godbout also testified Wednesday about a conversation he had with Buddy Robinson one night at his home after he moved out of 36 Highland Ave. Godbout told Robinson that he had come to resolve Fesmire’s disappearance.
During the conversation, Godbout was standing behind the couch where Robinson was sitting. He noticed that Robinson had started to sweat and took off his cap to wipe his brow. Robinson was “very nervous,” Godbout said.
Robinson told Godbout that he was in a “daze” the entire day and that he “couldn’t remember where he put her” body. A few minutes later, he went straight to a bathroom and vomited, Godbout said.
A worker at the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Task Force testified Wednesday that a laptop Buddy Robinson pawned in Lewiston included the Internet search phrases “states of death” and “stages of decomposition.”
On cross-examination, the worker said the user name on the laptop was “Brandi Robinson.”