A Baton Rouge man condemned to die 21 years ago for the fatal New Year’s Day 1991 stabbing of an elderly couple in their Dalton Street home is not intellectually disabled, a state judge ruled Friday.
A finding to the contrary would have barred Allen “Lil Boo” Robertson Jr., 48, from being executed for the slayings of Morris and Kazuko Prestenback, 76 and 71, respectively. Robertson was 23 when he burglarized their home for money to buy drugs.
Robertson’s lead attorney, Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana Director Gary Clements, said he will ask the state Supreme Court to review and reverse District Judge Mike Erwin’s ruling.
Prem Burns, a retired East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutor who handled the trial and now acts as special counsel in the case, predicted the judge’s decision will withstand the appeal process.
Erwin, following several years of hearings on Robertson’s intellectual disability claim, stated in court Friday there was no indication in Robertson’s school records that he was disabled. The judge also said Robertson displayed an ability to adapt in society.
Erwin said he also took into account Robertson’s IQ scores, his videotaped confession and his interactions with his attorneys during his trial.
Robertson, dressed in a bright orange prison jumpsuit, was in court for the judge’s ruling.
One psychologist hired by the defense testified during the hearings that Robertson is intellectually disabled, and one hired by prosecutors reached the opposite conclusion. Two psychologists appointed by the court split on the issue.
“We think what we put on in the hearing contradicts what he said,” Clements said outside the courtroom of Erwin’s reasoning. “We think his ruling will be contradicted by the facts.”
Burns said she is confident the judge made the right call.
“There was never any prior labeling of this man as intellectually disabled,” she said. “I’m truly confident that every corner was covered.”
Erwin gave Clements until Sept. 21 to file his appeal at the state Supreme Court. The hearing transcripts must be completed before the appeal can be filed.
The U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2002, seven years after Robertson’s conviction, that intellectually disabled people cannot be executed.