A Baton Rouge man awaiting a double-murder trial and an armed robbery retrial rejected an offer Monday that would have tacked on 20 years to the 25 years he's currently serving, but taken a potential life sentence off the table.
A prosecutor disclosed the offer during a habitual offender hearing for Jonathan Robertson, who was convicted of attempted armed robbery in 2019, simple robbery in 2010 and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 2008.
Robertson, 30, is serving a 25-year prison term on the attempted armed robbery.
He also was convicted at that 2019 trial of armed robbery and sentenced to a consecutive 50 years, but the non-unanimous armed robbery conviction and 50-year term were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court last year declared split-jury verdicts unconstitutional. A new trial on that charge was ordered. The attempted armed robbery conviction was unanimous.
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East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors now are seeking to have Robertson deemed a third felony offender and sentenced accordingly. He could face a prison term of 24 years to 99 years under Louisiana's habitual offender sentencing guidelines.
Robertson faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he's found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2015 slaying of two Texas women in Baton Rouge. The armed robbery and attempted armed robbery charges stem from incidents that occurred less than two weeks after the killings.
Prosecutor Stuart Theriot told state District Judge Beau Higginbotham on Monday that if Robertson pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm in the double-slaying in exchange for a 20-year sentence to run consecutively with his 25-year term, then all of the cases against him would be resolved.
But Robertson refused to accept the offer, prompting the judge to schedule a May 4 court date for the habitual offender ruling and sentencing.
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Depending on how severe a sentence Robertson receives as a repeat offender, prosecutors then will decide whether to retry the armed robbery charge and also whether to try the double-homicide, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said.
In the double-homicide, Brandi Gilbert, of Plano, Texas, and Corrine Rayford, of Grapevine, Texas, were shot in the head and found in a parked car on Boone Avenue on June 19, 2015. They were both 23.
Less than two weeks later on July 1, 2015, Robertson allegedly robbed a Cracker Barrel on Jefferson Highway and tried to rob a Comfort Inn security guard off College Drive in incidents that occurred two hours apart.
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The hotel guard disarmed Robertson in the parking lot, and that pistol was traced back to the double homicide.