Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Robertson: Affirming murder convictions of white supremacist

In U.S. v. Robertson, No. 12-10046 (Nov. 12, 2013), the Court affirmed convictions for murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1). Robertson was convicted of murdering homeless persons in order to improve his standing in the Tampa, Florida, Blood and Honour white supremacist group The Court affirmed the district court’s factual finding that there was no immunity deal that would have foreclosed the government from prosecuting Robertson for the murders charged in the indictment. The Court also affirmed the district court’s ruling that sustained three government Batson challenges to Robertson’s motions to peremptorily strike three black venire members. The Court did not agree that it could affirm the district court’s ruling as to Robertson striking of the first black venire member based on his subsequent attempt to strike two more blacks venire members. But the Court found that the district court properly relied on the fact that Robertson was a white defendant striking black venire persons in a trial involving a violent crime against a black victim, and that there were only three black venire members. The Court also noted that Robertson’s justification that the black venire person had ties to law enforcement was contradicted by his decision not to strike several other jurors who had law enforcement connections. Finally, the Court rejected the challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence of a racketeering motive, pointing out that Robertson and others “got tattoos commemorating their participation in the killings.”