Valessa Robinson seen in court at 15 back in 1998 for the murder of her mother, Vicki.
Tampa, Florida -- For friends of Vicki Robinson this is a tough time. News of Valessa Robinson's prison release on Friday brings them back to the dark days of 1998 when they lost a ray of sunshine.
"Vicki was a woman who would light up the room with her smile," says Gibbs Wilson, who knew Vicki through church and a Christian singles group.
Vicki Robinson's murder shocked her quiet Carrollwood neighborhood and the Tampa Bay area. The details of the crime also attracted national attention.
Vicki's daughter Valessa, then 15, and her 19-year-old boyfriend Adam Davis, and another teenage friend Jon Whispel plotted to kill the mother. They injected Vicki with bleach, stabbed her, and stuffed her body in a garbage can.
Davis is on death row. Whispel was sentenced to 25 years and is currently scheduled to be released in 2020.
The motive? Vicki didn't approve of Valessa's relationship and was about to enroll her daughter in a Christian reform school.
"It was unthinkable," said Wilson of the crime. "Just really beyond imagination."
One long-time neighborhood resident who didn't want to be identified recalls how Valessa changed from a smiley, bubbly, friendly girl, into a teen with an attitude who wore black.
"I noticed this change and became afraid of her," she said. "I wouldn't let her in the house."
Now the waifish-looking teen from the courtroom is a 30-year-old soon to be ex-con. Some people in the neighborhood say 13 years in prison isn't enough punishment, but others hope Valessa will make the best out of her life's next chapter.
"I think Vicki would have been forgiving and conciliatory at this point," said Wilson. "She'd be fine with her being released and having a second chance."
Valessa is scheduled to be released from Homestead Correctional Institution in Miami-Dade County on Friday. Department of Corrections records indicate she will be going to a house in Ocean Springs, Mississippi owned by relatives on her father's side.
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