Robinson murder trial begins

Murder victim James H. Sprouse

CONEJOS — It took two days to seat a jury in the murder trial of Michael Robinson, 35, accused of killing his step grandfather in June 2016.

12th Judicial District Judge Martin Gonzales is presiding in Conejos District Court.

Defense and prosecution attorneys meticulously vetted possible panelists, ascertaining whether they believed that persons accused of crimes in the United States are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, if more weight would be given to someone from law enforcement or a witness who provided contradictory testimony and if each could maintain an open mind.

The jury pool arrived at the Conejos County Courthouse at 8 a.m. Tuesday and returned at the same time Wednesday, watching as some jurors were retained and some excused until 3:30 p.m. when a jury was seated and the gallery erupted with applause.

Robinson is being accused of murdering James H. Sprouse, 77, in a small abandoned store in Romeo, then leaving Colorado in the deceased man’s vehicle some time between June 3 and 12, 2016.

In April 2017, Sprouse’s remains were found sealed in a freezer in the old store.

Robinson was arrested in California and returned to Colorado the same month.

In addition to a murder charge, he faces charges of tampering with physical evidence and aggravated motor vehicle theft.

Testimony is expected to begin today.