Robinson attorneys claim ‘real killer’ still free

Appeal seeks overturn of conviction, death sentence for 1996 Echo-Poland murders

In a 146-page post-hearing brief, attorneys for convicted murderer Darrell Robinson contend “the state sent the wrong man to prison in 2001. Meanwhile, the true killer has roamed free.”

The brief was filed at the same time as the prosecution’s 44-page brief outlining its position that Robinson’s 2001 conviction and death sentence for the 1996 murders of four people -- including an infant -- in the Echo-Poland Community was the correct decision. A separate article has been written concerning the prosecution's brief and contentions.

Both sides have until Nov. 20 to file responses, after which 9th Judicial District Judge Patricia Koch will issue a decision on whether Robinson’s conviction stands or is overturned.

On May 28, 1996, Billy Lambert, his sister Carol Hooper, Hooper’s daughter Maureen Kelley and Kelley’s infant son Nicholas Kelley were found shot to death in Lambert’s home on Guy Peart Road in Poland.

Robinson was arrested about two hours later, driving Lambert’s truck.

Robinson was convicted and sentenced to death in 2001. The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence in 2004. Koch presided over an extensive hearing in July 2018 that explored Robinson’s arguments in his attempt to have the sentence and conviction overturned. The recent petitions are in connection with that hearing.


In a summary of the defense position on the case, the attorneys argue there was “scant evidence” against Robinson that “grew even weaker as the state’s case developed.”

The grounds for appeal include an allegation that another man committed the murders; that Robinson had ineffective defense counsel at trial; that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have supported Robinson’s case; and that prosecutors made a deal with a “jailhouse snitch” to testify against Robinson, but told jurors there was no deal in exchange for that testimony.

The defense attorneys claim Robinson arrived at the house after the murders, saw the bodies, “panicked” and drove away in Lambert’s truck.

After Robinson was identified as a suspect, the attorneys claim prosecutors “remained laser-focused on petitioner to the exclusion of all other suspects, ignoring and failing to collect evidence that may have contradicted its theory of the case and suppressing evidence it knew was exculpatory.”

The appeals brief contends Robinson’s trial attorney, Michael Small, failed to “follow-up on credible leads and present a counter-narrative to the state's highly- flawed story at trial.”

Robinson’s trial “was plagued by constitutional violations and his conviction and death sentence should be vacated,” the brief argues.

While many of the appeals attorneys' arguments could be considered “technical” in nature, the claim that Robinson did not commit the murders at all is the major point of the appeal.


The defense identifies a man they contend is the murderer. This article will not include that name since he has never been charged with that crime.

The brief states the actual perpetrator “had a history of violent confrontation with victim Billy Lambert and a reputation for extreme violence and drug abuse.” He was being investigated for forging Lambert’s checks.

The prosecutors briefly considered that person as a suspect and concluded he had a solid alibi. The defense attorneys claim there are inconsistencies in the alibi and that witnesses have come forward who have exposed the alibi as a lie, place him at Lambert’s house on the morning of the murders and that the man “admitted committing the murdes.”

In addition, investigators found a blood-stained jacket at the scene of the crime.

A DNA test confirmed the blood on the jacket belongs to the other man. The jacket did not contain any of the victims’ blood.


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