Robert Wayne Holsey And Will Robinson

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, The Death Penalty by chamblee54 on December 7, 2014









December 9 is the scheduled day for the execution of Robert Wayne Holsey. On “December 17, 1995, Robert Wayne Holsey was arrested and charged for the murder of Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy William E. Robinson IV. There apparently is little doubt that Wayne Holsey (his family calls him Wayne) committed the crime. Here is the Murderpedia account:

willrobinson-02 “The evidence at trial showed that shortly before 1:30 a.m. on December 17, 1995, Holsey entered the Jet Food Store in Milledgeville with a gun and demanded money. After receiving money from the store’s cash register, Holsey directed the store clerk to open the store’s lottery machine. Although Holsey ordered the clerk into a back room, the clerk was able to observe Holsey leave in a small red automobile. The clerk immediately called the police and provided a description of Holsey and his car.

Less than four minutes after Holsey left the food store, Deputy Sheriff Will Robinson stopped a red Ford Probe at a nearby motel. He relayed the vehicle’s license plate number by radio and approached the vehicle; Holsey then fired. Forensic evidence showed that the deputy suffered a fatal head wound.

Several guests at the motel observed a person matching Holsey’s description returning to the red Ford Probe and speeding away. The police soon discovered the vehicle and gave chase, but Holsey was able to avoid apprehension. One witness testified that she observed the red Ford Probe and recognized Holsey, with whom she was personally acquainted.

Holsey’s girlfriend testified that shortly after the shooting Holsey called and asked her to meet him at his sister’s house. He told her to drive her blue Jeep Cherokee rather than her red automobile because the police were searching for a red Ford Probe. When she arrived at the house, Holsey was hiding behind a fence. Holsey had his girlfriend drive him past the murder scene. When she refused his request to be driven to his mother’s house where he could monitor a police scanner, Holsey had her drive him through back roads to his sister’s house where she had picked him up. Holsey instructed her to park directly behind the red Ford Probe in order to conceal its license plate.

While Holsey and his girlfriend were still in the Jeep, a law enforcement officer drove up to the red Ford Probe. The officer checked the Probe’s license plate number, which matched the number transmitted by the victim. The officer then illuminated the Cherokee and the Probe with his headlights and transmitted a request for additional support.

When Holsey exited the Cherokee “very quickly,” the officer turned on his blue police lights, exited his own vehicle, drew his service weapon, and twice commanded Holsey to raise his hands. Holsey failed to comply, began looking around as though searching for an escape route, and, after the officer threatened to shoot, Holsey finally raised his hands.

The officer then commanded Holsey to lie prone on the ground. When the chief deputy sheriff arrived less than two minutes later, he confirmed that the Probe’s license plate number matched the number from the victim’s radio call and discovered a fresh bullet hole in the back of the Probe. He then awakened and interviewed the occupants of the residence. The occupants, Holsey’s sister and another woman who was the owner of the Probe, both stated that Holsey had borrowed the vehicle that night. The chief deputy then, less than fifteen minutes after Holsey was initially detained, asked Holsey his name and placed him under arrest.

Clothes matching the description of those worn by the armed robbery perpetrator were discovered nearby. Shoes removed from Holsey after his arrest matched the description given by witnesses to both the armed robbery and the murder. A sample of blood taken from one of the shoes proved through DNA analysis to be consistent with the blood of the victim.”

Mother Jones has an excellent article about what happened at the trial. If you have a few minutes, you should read it. They tell the story much better than this slack blogger.

Wayne Holsey had an alcoholic for a lawyer. Andy Prince had recently gone to an emergency room with a blood alcohol level of .345. He was drinking a quart of vodka a night during the murder trial. Mr. Prince had numerous other issues, and was eventually disbarred. Mother Jones discusses Mr. Prince in great detail. Brian Andrew Prince died December 2, 2011.

Several details about Mr. Holsey were not told to the jury. Mr. Holsey has an I.Q. of 70, and is considered borderline disabled. He grew up with considerable abuse, in a house that neighbors called the “torture chamber.” If the jury had known this, the sentence might have been different.

The District Attorney has a different view of Mr. Prince. “Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright convicted Wayne Holsey and will argue against clemency. His recollection of Prince is different. “He was the go to guy for the death penalty defense lawyer at the time.”

Bright said from his side of the table, Prince was a tough opponent regardless of whether or not he was an alcoholic at the time. “It wouldn’t shock me that he drank at night. I’m not there so I wouldn’t know, but that wouldn’t shock me,” But Bright says what Prince did at night doesn’t matter. He says in court, Prince was formidable. “During the day when he was in court he was sober, he was lucid, he was a fighter, he worked his tail off.”

The case went through the standard protocol of appeals. On Sept. 14, 2012, “The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, in a 2-1 decision issued Thursday, said that even though Robert Wayne Holsey’s trial lawyers did not do a competent job, their deficient performance did not prejudice the outcome of the trial.”

Circuit Judge Ed Carnes wrote the 104-page lead opinion in the case. Senior Circuit Judge J.L. Edmondson wrote a concurring opinion. He criticized the lead opinion for being too long. “In my experience, longish opinions always present a strong possibility of error lurking somewhere in the text. That the opinion writer is a skilled and careful judge does not eliminate the risk. Furthermore, no one wishes to join in an opinion that they do not understand fully.”

UPDATE: Wayne Holsey died at 10:51 pm, December 9, 2014. According to reporter Randall Savage, who witnessed the execution, Wayne Holsey addressed the father of his victim: “Mr. Robinson, I’m sorry for taking your son’s life that night: I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me and my family.” Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.









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  1. […] Nothing. This would not the first time the Georgia has executed an intellectually disabled man. Robert Holsey had an i.q. of 70, and came from a background of horrific childhood abuse. Brandon Rhode “was […]

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