Eleventh Circuit Affirms Convictions Of White Supremacist Murderer Of Two Homeless Men
Tampa, Florida – Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today affirmed the convictions of James L. Robertson on charges that he had murdered two homeless men to further his position in the white-supremacist hate group known as “Blood and Honor.” The bodies of Alfred Williams and Richard Arseneau were found in 1998, in Tampa, after both had been severely beaten and died from head trauma. Although authorities were unable to identify the perpetrators of the crimes at the time, newly discovered evidence, in early 2005, revealed that, on the night of the murders, Robertson and three others had sought out the victims, beaten them severely, and left them for dead.
All three of the other participants in the assaults pleaded guilty to related charges and testified at Robertson’s trial. They all identified Robertson as the primary instigator of the attacks and that Robertson had bludgeoned the men with a tire iron or similar instrument, inflicting multiple blows to the victims’ heads and bodies.
On appeal, Robertson argued that the district court had erred by refusing to permit him to strike one of only three African-American members from the jury pool, that his prosecution should have been barred by an alleged immunity agreement with the United States, and that the government had failed to present sufficient evidence of his participation in the murders or of the connection with his membership in the Blood and Honor organization. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected each of these arguments, finding sufficient evidence that Robertson had attempted to strike the African-American jury pool member for an unconstitutionally discriminatory reason, approving of the district court’s finding that Robertson had not been promised immunity from prosecution, and finding ample trial evidence proving both Robertson’s participation in the murders and the murders’ connection to his membership in the Blood and Honor organization.
Robertson is currently serving a sentence of life imprisonment.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office. The case was prosecuted in the district court by A. Lee Bentley, Acting United States Attorney, and former Assistant United States Attorney Laurel Moore Lee. The appeal was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Linda Julin McNamara and David P. Rhodes.