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Colorado trucker sentenced to life for fatal shooting in Jessup Michigan man killed at truck stop


A Colorado truck driver was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for the shooting death of another trucker at a Jessup truck stop in February 1991.

Tommy Ray Robinson, 41, of Fort Collins, was sentenced in Howard Circuit Court after entering a plea agreement for first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and a weapons charge.

Robinson was charged in the murder of Christopher Frey, 32, of Grass Lake, Mich., and the shooting of a second man during a Feb. 18, 1991, confrontation outside the Trucker's Inn, off Interstate 95.

Robinson will be given credit for the 19 months he served pending sentencing and will be eligible for parole in 27 years. Circuit Judge James B. Dudley sentenced Robinson after he said the other men provoked the confrontation.

Robinson said the men, calling him "n" and "boy," accosted a white woman who was accompanying him.

"I am not a murderer or a cold-blooded killer," Robinson said. The shootings "were accidental, unintentional and unavoidable."

But Judge Dudley said Robinson has not taken responsibility for his actions -- instead, blaming others, including his companion, the victims, police and prosecutors.

"For reasons unknown, [Robinson] chose to associate with a woman who -- according to him -- was a drug addict and alcoholic," the judge said.

"He also chose to purchase a gun. . . . This kind of conduct with those kinds of people was probably foreseeable."

Judge Dudley's sentence came after defense attorney Douglas Malcom argued for a lenient sentence, preferably a 20-year prison term. He cited Robinson's clean criminal record and history of community service.

"We can't abandon Tommy Ray Robinson," Mr. Malcom said. "We shouldn't throw away 40 years of a productive life. He anguishes every day about this."

But Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage told the judge that Robinson showed no consideration for the victims or their families.

Ms. Gage noted Robinson went to his motel room, got his semiautomatic handgun and wore a camouflage mask to confront the men.

"This is a dangerous man," she told the judge. "A sentence less than life would undervalue the worth of [the victims]."

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