AUBURN, Maine — A woman who served in the military with Buddy Robinson last year gave tearful testimony Thursday during his murder trial, saying he sent her incriminating text messages.
Rebecca Cornell du Houx of Augusta, who works as a mental health case worker, testified in Androscoggin County Superior Court for more than an hour as prosecutors wrapped up their case against Robinson on the sixth day of his trial.
Robinson, 31, of Lewiston, is accused of killing Christiana Fesmire, 22, also of Lewiston, on July 1, 2011. Her body has not been recovered.
Both sides rested their cases Thursday. Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday before the case goes to the jury.
Cornell du Houx said she and Robinson served in the same platoon in the Maine Army National Guard.
He started sending her text messages at the end of June last year following a two-week military training period, she said. On the night of July 1, Robinson sent Cornell du Houx a series of text messages starting with the statement that “he thought he was a horrible person,” Cornell du Houx said.
She asked him why he wrote that. He wrote back, saying “he had hurt somebody badly,” she said.
When she asked whether the woman was with him, he responded that she wasn’t.
“I will never see her again,” he wrote, “I don’t have to worry about her anymore,” she said
She asked him why not.
“She’s dead,” he wrote, Cornell du Houx told the jury during her emotional testimony. She paused periodically, catching her breath and wiping away tears with tissues.
When she wrote back asking Robinson whether he was serious, he paused for “a considerable amount of time” before finally writing, “No, just joking,” she said.
He wrote that there were many things he wanted to tell her, but he didn’t know if he could trust her, she said.
She wrote: “Try me.”
He responded by writing that if he were to tell her, she could never tell anybody for the rest of her life, she said. He wrote that he was an evil person and she wouldn’t like him if she knew what he had done.
The exchange of text messages lasted for more than one and a half hours, she said.
Cornell du Houx didn’t tell police about the text messages during early interviews, she said, because she was told not to by her platoon sergeant. She also didn’t want to betray her loyalty to a fellow soldier, she said.
Robinson wrote that he was sending the text messages from a motel in Augusta where he had a room for the night. His sister and her boyfriend also were staying at the motel, he wrote.
Cornell du Houx said she saved his text messages for more than a month and showed them to a friend before deleting them.
She also confided in another soldier about the text messages and the gag order she felt she was under orders to obey. That soldier, Ashley Summers of Rockland, testified Thursday that she told Cornell du Houx: “If you know something, you have to come forward.” Summers said she told Cornell du Houx not to let her military unit “intimidate” her.
Cornell du Houx spoke with a friend from college, who offered to contact the Lewiston Police Department about the text messages.
During a weekend drill before Robinson was arrested in October, he and Cornell du Houx discussed another soldier who had killed his wife and himself. She asked Robinson if he could imagine being so angry that he’d kill somebody.
He didn’t respond, she said.
She asked again and he shrugged.
She said one wouldn’t know unless one was in that situation. He nodded, she said.
When she asked how somebody would get away with the crime of killing someone, Robinson talked to her about disposing of the body in the woods, she said.
Cornell du Houx said she later contacted Robinson, who had missed his monthly drill and was absent without leave. Robinson by then had been arrested and charged with murder. He told her he was at a mental hospital because he’d been having blackouts, including one on July 1, she said.
Asked on cross-examination whether Robinson ever told Cornell du Houx that he killed Fesmire, she said he never did.
Defense attorney Edward “Ted” Dilworth also questioned Cornell du Houx on why she wasn’t forthcoming with police early on in interviews and appeared to remember more details about Robinson’s text messages after more time had passed when her memory wasn’t as fresh.
She said details of the exchange came back to her later, but she also had been seeking to protect Robinson early on from getting into trouble.
After the state rested its case Thursday morning, Dilworth called several witnesses, including two friends of Christiana Fesmire who told police that they thought they had seen her on July 1 after police believe she had already been killed.
Upon cross-examination by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, the couple said they had been mistaken about the date.
Another defense witness said Fesmire had told her that Robinson’s sister, Brandi, had been holding $7,000 for Fesmire in a bank account. Later, Chantelle Plourde said Brandi Robinson told her she was finally “rid” of Fesmire.
Dilworth was seeking to present Brandi Robinson as an alternative suspect.
Buddy Robinson opted not to testify on his behalf, telling Justice MaryGay Kennedy that he understood his rights and had consulted with his attorney.