CONEJOS — Following a 90-minute deliberation Thursday afternoon, a district court jury found Michael Robinson guilty as charged of five crimes connected with the death of James H. Sprouse, 77, his step-grandfather.
Robinson, 35, will be sentenced this morning for murder in the first degree, tampering with evidence, aggravated motor vehicle theft, concealing a death and abuse of a corpse.
Sprouse’s bloody remains were found in April 2017 sealed in an old freezer in the office of a small store he once operated in downtown Romeo, and two blood-soaked mattresses were found nearby. Sprouse and Robinson lived in an adjacent apartment when the elderly man disappeared and his vehicle was driven to California sometime between June 3 and 12, 2016.
No one had spoken with Sprouse after May 27, 2016 when he had a telephone conversation with his son-in-law and Sprouse had told him he was afraid of Robinson. He also stopped doing things he normally did.
No one reported seeing Sprouse from June 4, 2016, when a neighbor went to take him a survival kit and saw him lying on the floor of his living room until April 2017 when Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents found him sealed in a chest freezer.
Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the jury that statements made by Robinson to an investigator after his arrest in San Diego, Calif., indicated he was distancing himself from Sprouse, while other remarks showed “consciousness of guilt.”
Public Defender Kalie Letindres argued that there was no proof Sprouse was killed in his residence by Robinson, and there was no proof Sprouse was there during the time the murder allegedly occurred, yet investigating officers seized upon Robinson as the perpetrator and looked no further.
She claimed trained law enforcement officers and firefighters didn’t see the freezer when they went in on a welfare check in June 2016 because it wasn’t there; it was put there by someone who killed Sprouse while Robinson was in California.
Following lengthy instructions from presiding District Judge Martin Gonzales, the jury began deliberations and quickly reached a verdict.