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    1. #1

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      Oct 2010

      Robin Lee Row - Idaho Death Row

      Facts of the Crime:

      Was sentenced to death for the February 1992 murders of her husband Randy, and children, Joshua Cornellier and Tabitha Cornellier.

      She has had a federal habeas petition pending since June 4, 1998.


    2. #2
      Michael's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      January 25, 2008

      Idaho Supreme Court rejects death row appeal

      BOISE -- The Idaho Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from the state's only woman on death row.

      Robin Row, convicted of aggravated arson and three counts of murder in 1993 for setting the fire at her Boise apartment that killed her husband and two children while they slept, claimed the state wrongfully withheld information that could have been helpful to her case.

      But in an unanimous ruling today, the high court said the allegedly withheld evidence did not cast any doubt on the reliability of her conviction and sentence.

      Row already had brought three appeals -- some of which still were pending in the courts -- when she filed a fourth petition, claiming a deputy prosecutor committed misconduct by withholding evidence. The evidence in question was that a law enforcement officer was present when one of Row's friends recorded a telephone conversation with Row discussing the night of the murders.

      The fire that killed 32-year-old Randy, 10-year-old Joshua and 8-year-old Tabitha Cornellier happened in February 1992, and shortly after a detective asked Row's friend and neighbor, Joan McHugh, to begin recording any phone calls she received from Row.

      In one of those calls, the detective asked McHugh to lie and tell Row that early on the morning of the fire, she had woken up and gone downstairs, only to find that Row wasn't there. Row first told McHugh that she couldn't remember where she was, according to the recordings, but said in a phone call later that day that she'd been talking with her psychiatrist in a car outside the apartment.

      When McHugh pointed out that the psychiatrist could serve as an alibi, proving Row didn't commit the murders, Row "did not seem enthused about the fact that she would have an alibi and refused to tell her psychiatrist's name," according to the detective's report.

      In her appeal, Row claimed that the state wrongfully failed to reveal that the detective was actually present with McHugh when McHugh recorded the phone calls. But the Idaho Supreme Court didn't agree, instead finding that at the very least the detective's report made it clear that he and McHugh were in close contact during the calls. Besides, the high court found, such information would not have likely changed the outcome of her case.

      In 1980, another of Row's children, Keith, died in a California house fire that officials ruled accidental. A fourth child died of sudden infant death syndrome. Row was sentenced to death on Dec. 16, 1993, by 4th District Judge Alan Schwartzman, who called her a pathological liar, citing her purchase of $276,000 in life insurance on her family in the year preceding their deaths and her admission that she was having an affair with a married man. Schwartzman also said the premeditated arson murders were "the final betrayal of motherhood," and "a descent into the blackened heart of darkness."

      (Source The Associated Press January 25, 2008)

    3. #3
      Senior Member
      JLR's Avatar
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      Mar 2011
      August 6, 2010

      Only woman on Idaho death row appeals sentence

      By Rebecca Boone
      The Associated Press

      BOISE — Attorneys for the only woman on Idaho’s death row say Robin Lee Row’s triple murder conviction should be thrown out because her trial attorneys didn’t have the time or money to develop evidence that Row’s brain had atrophied, and the damage may have hindered her decision-making abilities.

      Row, now 52, was convicted of murdering husband Randy Row, 34, and her children from a previous marriage, Joshua Cornellier, 10, and Tabitha Cornellier, 8, by setting their duplex on fire in 1992. Row had two other children who died years earlier — a baby who investigators said died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and a son named Keith who was killed in a 1980 California house fire that investigators ruled accidental.

      Fourth District Judge Alan Schwartzman sentenced Row to death in 1993, calling her a pathological liar and citing her purchase of $276,000 worth of life insurance for her family the year before they died.

      “Robin Row’s actions represent the final betrayal of motherhood and embody the ultimate affront to civilized notions of maternal instinct,” Schwartzman said during her sentencing. “Maternal ’pedocide’ — the killing of one’s own children — is the embodiment of the cold-blooded, pitiless slayer — a descent into the blackened heart of darkness.”

      Row’s appeals attorney, Teresa Hampton, told U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Thursday that her client’s trial attorneys didn’t do enough to develop evidence that could have resulted in a lesser sentence.

      “There is significant and powerful mitigating evidence that should have been developed at trial,” she said.

      Row’s childhood was marred by long-term sexual abuse and mentally ill family members, and her own medical history included evidence of mental illness, including serious suicide attempts, Hampton said.

      But Hampton said a CT scan showing Row had brain atrophy is “the major red flag in this case” that, if explored, could have changed the outcome. Brain atrophy is a loss of brain cells and the connections between them, and it can occur for a number of reasons, including trauma and disease. The damage left by atrophy can sometimes lead to mental illness, dementia and other problems.

      Row’s trial attorneys did ask the court for money to hire an expert to evaluate Row’s brain function and history, but the trial judge refused their request and instead referred them to the public defender’s budget, Hampton said. The judge also refused to allow them additional time to investigate on their own, she said.

      But Jessica Lorello, the deputy attorney general representing the state, said Row’s trial attorneys were never deprived the money or the time they needed to come up with mitigating evidence.

      “The court’s position always was, ’I don’t know why you can’t take this out of the public defender’s budget,”’ Lorello said. “In terms of that social history evidence … the court determined it ultimately wouldn’t have made a difference.”

      Winmill said he would take the matter under advisement and could have a ruling in the next several weeks.


    4. #4
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Federal judge rejects Robin Row's death row appeal

      BOISE, Idaho (AP) A federal judge has dismissed the entire appeal of the only woman on Idaho's death row, but he has cleared the Robin Row to ask a higher court to consider a handful of issues in the case.

      Row was convicted of murdering her husband Randy Row and her children, 10-year-old Joshua Cornellier and 8-year-old Tabitha Cornellier, by setting their Boise duplex on fire in 1992. At her sentencing, 4th District Judge Alan Schwartzman said she was a pathological liar and a cold-blooded, pitiless slayer.

      Row appealed on several issues. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill rejected all her claims. Still, he said she could appeal some matters to a higher court, including whether her attorneys were ineffective and whether she was forced to wait too long to be arraigned.


    5. #5
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Row will be profiled on ID networks Deadly Women on Saturday November 5 at 7 p.m. EDT.

    6. #6

    7. #7
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Row's federal habeas petition was dismissed last August. She has yet to file in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The delay in justice isn't isolated to Idaho, but the feds there sure seem to sit on appeals for a long time.

    8. #8
      Heidi, thank you for the information on the habeas corpus. I didn't realize that it just takes so long for all the appeals to go through. In the mean time we have to pay for them. I guess I will never understand the system truly and how it works. Thank you again, Heidi.

      Was there DNA and did they show that in fact that she had killed her husband and family? Did they show concrete proof about it? Was there any mitigating circumstances at all, or was it all aggravating circumstances? Thank you.

    9. #9
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      I don't know what evidence was used to convict her. On appeal Row has raised issues of childhood sexual abuse and brain atrophy. She has lost on appeal.

    10. #10
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      20 years since Robin Row killed her husband, 2 kids

      BOISE -- Exactly 20 years ago, Robin Row set fire to her Ada County home, killing her husband and two children. She is the only woman on Idaho's death row.

      It was early morning on February 10, 1992 when Robin Row set her home on fire. The carbon monoxide killed her husband Randy Row and her two children 10-year-old Joshua and 8-year-old Tabitha.

      Row was sentenced to death, and she continues to appeal that decision. In August 2011, a federal judge dismissed her entire appeal, but cleared her to ask a higher court to consider some other issues in her case, including whether her attorneys were ineffective and whether she was forced to wait too long to be arraigned.

      Randy Row's sister: "I don't think she deserves to be alive"

      Now 20 years after the shocking triple murder, the victims’ families are waiting to see if Row's death sentence will be carried out.

      "She did get the death penalty, and it's just being dragged on and on and on at the expense of everybody," Randy Row's older sister Chris Danielson said. "I could understand them saying, well, we gotta give her a chance or whatnot, well she didn't give them a chance. They [the victims] didn't get 20 extra years on their lives."

      Danielson says hearing of each of Robin Row's appeals makes waiting even more difficult.

      "It's almost like pouring salt into your wounds. Like, is it ever going to get over? Is it ever going to get over? It's like c'mon, what was all that stuff we went through when we went to trial and they found her guilty?" Danielson said.

      Lead investigator: 'She is an extreme psychopath'

      Current Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney was the lead investigator on this case in 1992. He was the detective who made the arrest.

      "This was probably the most premeditated, in some ways, premeditated for gain murders that I've seen," Sheriff Gary Raney said.

      Robin Row had taken out life insurance policies on her family; there was a quarter million dollars covering her children. The most recent policy had been taken out just a couple weeks before their murders.

      "For her, it was a matter of would I rather have this money or would I rather have my husband and my two kids. She's a sociopath, so she could make the decision, I'd rather have the money," Raney said.

      Sheriff: Robin Row likely killed her two other children

      Raney believes Robin Row also killed her other two children, but was never caught or charged.

      "As I investigated it and learned... I believe, that she killed a 15-month old daughter in New Hampshire in 1976 and her 6-year-old son in California in 1980," Raney said. "So she had killed two of her children before, without being caught, and I was determined that if in fact this was murder, that I was going to do everything I can to collect the evidence and make sure she didn't get away with it again."

      Raney says the New Hampshire case involved a daughter who's cause of death was listed as SIDS, but now he says evidence shows children that age do not die from SIDS. He believes Robin Row smothered the baby. "She was in a situation where the child was a burden to her, so she was looking for other opportunities, again a matter of convenience," Raney said.

      In 1980, Raney says Robin Row was staying in a borrowed cabin with her 6-year-old son Keith when a fire broke out and killed him. He says forensics suggest the boy's bedroom door was locked and an electric heater was pushed up against his bed blankets. Raney says the boy probably tried crawling to the door, couldn't get out, and died trying to get to the window.

      Raney believes Keith's murder is chargeable, and that Robin Row could have been accused of that murder if the Boise case hadn't gone forward. He says Robin Row collected $28,000 in life insurance from Keith's death.

      'I think she deserves the death penalty'

      "For me understanding her personality and what she did, I think she deserves the death penalty," Raney said. "But every day up until that day, she's not able to manipulate other people, she's not able to get anything out of her web of lies, she's not going to kill anymore children. So she sits there 23 hours a day on death row and waits for that day to come, then there's probably some justice alongside that."

      Raney says Robin Row has exhausted what could be considered her significant appeals, though no timeline can be certain for her case.

      "I know that she has lost her final, significant appeals," Raney said. "She's on the, what might be classified as 'grasping at straw' appeals, the final opportunities. I don't expect those to go anywhere. As to what the timeline would be for those to be exhausted and what ultimately will be decided about serving the death warrant..."

      If Robin Row is ever issued a death warrant, she would be brought from the Pocatello women's prison to the maximum security prison in Boise to await execution.

      Row is represented by the Federal Defender Services of Idaho.


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