Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Skinhead convicted in killings of Tampa homeless men

TAMPA — White supremacist James Robertson couldn't keep his mouth shut.

Trying to finagle his way out of a long prison sentence for bank robbery, Robertson told authorities about two cold murder cases involving homeless men in Tampa. He pointed the FBI to three of his skinhead buddies.

Robertson, who admitted being at the murder scenes, portrayed himself as a minor participant.

But a federal jury on Tuesday convicted Robertson of committing two murders in a racketeering enterprise after a two-week trial. Prosecutors told them Robertson played a leading role in the 1998 beating deaths of Alfred Williams, 62, and Richard Arseneau, 44.

"These men had no material goods, no wealth," prosecutor Lee Bentley told jurors in closing statements. "They were struggling to survive. This defendant and three of his associates took the only thing these men had left — their lives."

Robertson, 32, faces life in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich. A sentencing date has not been set.

The killings may have gone unsolved but for Robertson's botched effort at leniency in an unrelated bank robbery case five years later.

Prosecutors say Robertson and three other skinheads were members of a group called "Blood and Honour" who wandered Tampa's streets in the fall of 1998 on a predatory hunt they called "bum rolling."

"Blood and Honour" included Jessy Joe Roten, who would himself be convicted of the shooting death of a black 6-year-old St. Petersburg girl as she slept in 1999.

The skinheads thought homeless men were inferior. So on several nights in September 1998, they went "bum rolling," prosecutors said.

They attacked Williams so savagely with a tire iron, clubs and their steel-toed boots that police would find his teeth scattered around his body. Arseneau was hit repeatedly in the head with a hand ax.

The other three members of "Blood and Honour" who took part — Cory Hulse, Kenneth Hoover and Charles Marovskis — have pleaded guilty to charges related to the deaths and are cooperating with authorities. They are awaiting sentencing.

Robertson's attorney, Bjorn Brunvand, told jurors that Robertson's skinhead friends concocted a story implicating Robertson to save themselves.

The attorney acknowledged his client wasn't a likeable guy with his skinhead beliefs. But that, he said, didn't mean Robertson was guilty.

Reach William R. Levesque at levesque@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3432.

Skinhead convicted in killings of Tampa homeless men 10/18/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 9:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County

    Roads

    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  2. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'

    Celebrities

    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  3. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan

    Blogs

    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the original chart that upset parents with wording such as "anarchy" and "conform to peer pressure" without any context.
  4. Jon Gruden, Rex Ryan meet with Jameis Winston on 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    One of the interesting guest stars on HBO's "Hard Knocks", which covers every minute of the Bucs' training camp and preseason, has been Jon Gruden. The legendary former Tampa Bay coach has popped up from time …

    In a teaser clip from episode 3 of "Hard Knocks", Jon Gruden and fellow former coach Rex Ryan meet with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to discuss his past and future in the NFL. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  5. German police seize thousands of 'Trump' ecstasy tablets

    National

    BERLIN — German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump's head, a haul with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900.)

    This undated  picture provided by Polizeiinspektion Osnabrueck police shows an ecstasy pill. German police say they have seized thousands of ecstasy pills in the shape of President Donald Trump's head, a haul  with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900). Police in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany, say they found the drugs during a check Saturday evening on an Austrian-registered car on the A30 highway. [Police Osnabrueck via AP]