A 21-year-old in jail on fraud charges says he killed a stranger who gave him a ride and claims, "He had it coming."
Robbie Robinson had already selected his preferred method of execution nine hours before he was charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 51-year-old Pasco advertising salesman.
"If I get the death penalty, I'm going to request the electric chair," said Robinson, 21. "I'm going to go out on fire. The Lord will take care of me more if I pay for my sins."
During an interview with a Times reporter Saturday morning, Robinson said he killed Larry Pollock, whose body was found May 14 in his duplex in the Veterans Village area of west Pasco County.
Robinson, of Lakeland, has been held in the Polk County Jail since Monday on a charge of "defrauding an innkeeper of $300 or more." Until about 6 p.m. Saturday, when the murder warrant was served, Robinson's bail was $250. Now he's being held without bail.
Robinson gave the Times a detailed account of his encounter with Pollock. A Pasco Sheriff's Office statement Saturday evening offered few details of the crime, so there is no immediate way to confirm Robinson's tale.
Robinson told the Times Pollock was seeking casual sex on the night of Friday, May 12. "He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time," Robinson said.
Robinson was hitchhiking out of Tampa, near the entrance ramp of Interstate 275, trying to get back to Lakeland, when Pollock stopped.
Robinson, 6 feet tall and 187 pounds, said he was dressed in designer clothes from head-to-toe: a Tommy Hilfiger hat, a $60 Ralph Lauren shirt, blue jeans, and Timberland shoes.
When Pollock stopped, Robinson said, he asked the younger man if he would exchange sex for money. Robinson said he was angry at first _ he said he doesn't approve of homosexual men _ but changed his mind when he saw Pollock's 1995 Ford Contour.
Robinson, an unemployed mechanic, said he figured he would rob Pollock of some cash, maybe "tie him up at his home" and take his car.
"I had no intention of hurting the dude," he said.
Pollock handed Robinson a beer, and Robinson said he started "tripping" about 15 minutes later.
Pollock said he had rubbed LSD on the outside of the bottle, Robinson recounted. Robinson said he tries to stay away from hallucinogenics such as LSD, PCP or Ecstasy because he had a "bad trip" about eight months ago in Louisiana. During that experience, Robinson said that he took PCP and formaldehyde and ended up in a psychiatric ward.
"I try to stay away from (hallucinogenic drugs)," he said. "That s--- makes me mean."
Robinson said that he asked Pollock to take him to Interstate 4, but that Pollock refused. Pollock also wouldn't let Robinson listen to the radio, which angered the younger man.
"He had it coming," said Robinson.
The two arrived at the duplex where Pollock lived alone, at 2953 Westmoreland Court, in Veterans Villas.
When they got inside, Pollock changed out of his pants and into a pair of shorts, Robinson said, while he sat on the couch and took off his shirt and his undershirt.
"I didn't want to get blood on my shirts," he said.
Robinson said that Pollock came after him with a serrated-edge knife, saying "I'm going to be the dominant one."
The younger man said he grabbed the knife blade, and it snapped off in his hand. Robinson said he started punching Pollock.
He said he wanted to knock him out and teach him a lesson not to solicit sex from strangers.
"I went _ pow!" Robinson said, pantomiming a quick punch with his right hand. He said he got into a boxing stance, both fists up, and started to repeatedly punch Pollock.
"I caught him to the right side of his eye," said Robinson. Pollock fell to the floor.
"I jumped on him and just started to smack him," said Robinson.
He paused to show his right hand, which had a dime-size wound and a bruise on his knuckle.
Robinson said that although there was blood everywhere, he didn't think he killed Pollock. He said he tried to wipe some of the blood off the other man's face.
In an attempt to destroy any evidence, Robinson said he sprayed hair spray around Pollock to get rid of fingerprints. He also smoked a few cigarettes and threw some water around the room, he said. He also threw blankets on top of Pollock.
He said he grabbed Pollock's credit cards and keys.
"When I left, I could have sworn he was still breathing," said Robinson. "His fat stomach was going up and down."
Robinson said he drove Pollock's Contour for hours, trying to get back to Lakeland, where he had been staying. He got lost several times, asked directions, and turned on some easy-listening music on the radio, "just to drown out my conscience.
"For some reason, I knew that dude wasn't all right," said Robinson. "Might as well have some fun before I get locked up _ I'm going to be locked up for a long time."
Robinson said that when he finally reached Lakeland, he bought $20 worth of marijuana. He also put gas in Pollock's car _ Supreme Unleaded at a BP Station _ using one of Pollock's credit cards.
"I tried to be reasonable with his cards," Robinson said. "I was feeling real guilty, but I needed gas."
Robinson said he also vacuumed and washed the car.
Sometime Saturday or Sunday _ Robinson is unclear _ he parked the car near Providence Road, near the Golden Wings mobile home park in Lakeland. He said he considered swapping the license plates, painting the car and buying new rims. He also considered letting a couple of friends take the car for a ride, but decided against any of those plans.
Robinson said he was in that neighborhood when a Lakeland police officer became interested in the car, and asked him about the vehicle. He said, "I played it cool," but gave the officer his name before walking away.
He said he then buried Pollock's credit cards in a field.
Sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning, Robinson said, he went to an International House of Pancakes on South Florida Avenue. He ordered a T-bone steak and refused to pay for it.
Instead, he said, he lighted a joint in the restaurant. "It filled the whole place up with pungent weed."
Pollock said he told an angry waitress to call police, and he left. But for some reason, he returned. An officer arrived, he said, and he was arrested on the fraud charge.
The manager of the IHOP said he vaguely recalls an arrest last Sunday, but was unable to remember the circumstances.
Robinson said once he got to the Lakeland Police Department, officers linked him to the car _ and to Pollock's body, 60 miles away in West Pasco County.
"I didn't struggle," said Robinson. "(Officers) got a job to do, and I don't want to be a d--k."
Robinson said he told his story to Pasco detectives, and was peeved that the detectives failed to bring him cigarettes as they had promised.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Robinson has no prior arrests in this state. He said he has lived in Arizona and Louisiana.
As for Pollock, records show a 1988 conviction in Pasco County for simple battery-lewdness. An undercover detective's statement says Pollock groped him at an adult book store in Holiday.
Pollock worked as an advertising account representative at Trader Publishing Co. in Pinellas County. In the mid-1990s he worked in the circulation department of the Times in Pasco County.
Robinson said he gave Pasco detectives an account of his role in the crime on Monday. He also said the detectives discouraged him from getting an attorney.
There was no explanation of why it took Pasco deputies five days to charge Robinson with murder.
Robinson said Saturday he wanted Pollock's family to know that he is "very, very, very sorry" for what he did.
Reached at her home in Elfers on Saturday afternoon, Pollock's sister was stunned at Robinson's story.
"I wish I could wipe this week out of my life," said Mary Ratulowsky. She said that much of Robinson's story was probably a lie _ her brother rarely drank because of his diabetes, he never touched drugs, and as for his sex life, she said she never asked.
"I don't know what he was. All I know is that I still love him," she said. She described him as a friendly, gentle man who enjoyed going to Clearwater Beach.
Robinson, who thinks that Pollock is "in heaven," says he's ready to accept the consequences.
"I confessed, I did it, I'll own up to it," he said. "I'll pay for my sins, one way or another."