HHI man gets life for murdering 8-year-old
BEAUFORT -- One of the suspects charged in the 2012 killing of a 8-year-old boy was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on September 19, 2014.
The Island Packet ran the following report:
Katrina Singleton let herself collapse Friday afternoon as she heard the verdict that Tyrone Robinson was guilty of murdering her son.
She sank into the shoulder of a relative, crying what she later said were tears of relief that a jury determined Robinson shot and killed 8-year-old Khalil Singleton on Sept. 1, 2012, outside his grandmother's Hilton Head Island home.
A few minutes later, Robinson, 39, leaned back in his chair, one hand brushing his cheek, as he learned he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
"From the day (Khalil) was born to the day he died, he had a smile on his face," Katrina Singleton told Judge Thomas Cooper Jr. before he issued the sentence, which offers no possibility of parole. "The memory I have of my son, no one can ever take it from me."
Defense attorney Arie Bax had asked Cooper for the minimum sentence of 30 years.
Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone argued Robinson had not earned leniency after spending his adult life in and out of prison, "terrorizing the community."
"(Robinson) is the epitome of a career criminal. ... There's nothing redeeming about him," Stone said after court. "I know the jury made the right decision."
The jury deliberated for just 1 1/2 hours before returning its verdict Friday, following four days of testimony in the Beaufort County Courthouse in Beaufort. Bax argued that was not enough time to discuss the facts of the case and entered a motion for a new trial.
Cooper denied the request.
The judge said the jury was especially attentive and had adequate time to come to a decision about the events that unfolded before Khalil Singleton was struck by a stray bullet on Allen Road.
Robinson fired that bullet, the jury decided. While he meant to strike Aaron Young Sr. and Aaron Young Jr., instead of Khalil, his intent is transferred to the victim under the law, Cooper had instructed jurors.
The Youngs, who fired two bursts of shots at Robinson's car on Allen Road, will stand trial next month on murder charges, Stone said.
Earlier Friday, Bax and Stone delivered their closing arguments.
On Sept. 1, 2012, "Tyrone Robinson was fleeing from Aaron Young Sr. and Aaron Young Jr.," Bax said. "But ladies and gentleman, he is not hiding from you; he is not running from you; he is not running from this day in court."
The attorney noted that Robinson was standing on Khalil's right on Allen Road and could not have shot the child's left chest as the boy ran from the trampoline near Marshland Road to his grandmother's house.
It's likely, he said, someone in the Youngs' pickup truck was carrying another revolver -- one of the 18 models that can fire .38-caliber bullets -- and wanted to fire a few final shots, he said.
"Does it make sense, maybe, that they gave up the gun they knew didn't shoot the boy and threw away the gun they knew did?" Bax said. "That's the one they throw in the marsh."
He asked the jury to pay careful attention to the law and not act out of passion, sadness or rage because of the tragic death.
"Convicting an innocent man by ignoring the law creates another tragedy, and it does not honor Khalil," Bax said.
WHAT A CHILD WOULD DO
In his closing statement, Stone urged the jury to look for a narrative that was consistent.
That, he said, was not Robinson's final story of hiding from the Youngs, revolver in his pocket, as they shot and killed Khalil.
Why then, Stone asked, wouldn't Robinson turn over his gun for forensic testing?
"That's the gun that exonerates him," Stone said.
"He knows it can't."
The solicitor argued that the fatal shot could not have come from the raised bed of a pickup truck, which the Youngs were driving from Allen Road. Instead, the low shot was consistent with Robinson crouching on the ground, perhaps after setting down the two beers he was seen carrying seconds later.
The solicitor then walked the jury through the shooting one last time using a 3D model of Allen Road, to scale from the air conditioners in the homes' windows to Khalil's red ATV.
He repeated Bax's argument that Robinson could not have shot Khalil on his left side.
"That's assuming an 8-year-old goes in one direction and one direction only," Stone said, his jaw tight. "But he forgot his four-wheeler. Adults may not stop to turn back to get it, but a child would."
OLDER CHARGES PURSUED?
Robinson has also been charged with pointing a firearm at another person and with burglarizing a pawn shop several weeks earlier with the same man who drove him to the Youngs' home Sept. 1, 2012.
Stone said he may have pursued those charges if Robinson had been found not guilty.
It was not clear Friday whether Robinson planned to appeal his verdict.
He was led from the courtroom in handcuffs and taken to the Beaufort County Detention Center. His attorney declined to comment outside the courthouse.
Before he was sentenced, however, Robinson stood and faced Khalil's family.
Robinson spoke softly, recalling the times he crossed paths with the child and the conversations they had. He looked directly at Khalil's father, Kareem Singleton.
"I tried," Robinson said. "I fled three times, man. I just want you to know that. If they just stopped coming one time, we'd still have Khalil."
Both men began to cry, and an investigator and relatives reached out to grip Kareem Singleton's shoulders.
Surrounded by relatives outside the courthouse, Kareem Singleton said he wants to forgive Robinson but can't.
"I felt like he made a mockery of my son's life," he said. "He saw my son, and he walked away.
"I have no respect for anything to do with him."