Dee Ann Athan, Valessa Robinson's attorney, said Valessa was not a sociopath when she killed her mother in 1998, but that she was just a kid- one day before Valessa's release from prison for the crime.
Tampa, Florida - Dee Ann Athan knows what it's like to be a mother. She has three daughters of her own.
As Valessa Robinson's attorney, Athan says it was only natural that she felt maternal toward her teenage client, a young woman who made a life-altering, deadly decision.
SEE ALSO: Emotional week for friends of murder victim, Vicki Robinson
Athan told 10 News, "[Valessa] was not a sociopath, [or] a psychopath; she was not a criminal. She was a kid growing up in Carrollwood, like a lot of other kids."
Turns out, she was a "kid" who became a killer.
"She was so vulnerable and a lot of people snicker at that, but she was a small girl, young and vulnerable. I told her she can come stay with me when she gets out of prison if she's ever in Tampa," Athan said. "If someone thinks I'm crazy to hang out with her, then they think I'm crazy. I'm fine with that. She was a young girl when this happened."
Valessa Robinson was indeed young, just 15, when she killed her mother, Vicki. Valessa's attorney says it was rebellious teenage love, an obsession with a boyfriend who became a deadly influence.
On June 26, 1998, Vicki Robinson ran errands with her daughter, Valessa, her daughter's boyfriend, Adam Davis, and a mutual friend, Jon Whispel.
After dinner that evening, Davis and Whispel left the Robinson home and went to a Denny's restaurant. Later that night, Valessa snuck out of her home and joined Davis and Whispel at the restaurant.
The trio left the restaurant in search of drugs, bought and took LSD and returned to the restaurant. While at the restaurant, Valessa stated that the three should kill her mother. Whispel thought Valessa was joking, but Davis and Valessa began to plan how to carry out the murder, agreeing on a lethal heroin overdose of Valessa's mother.
The murder took place back at Vicki's home. The trio took her mother's van without her knowledge, and attempted to buy heroin and a syringe.
Unable to purchase heroin, Davis purchased a syringe. Davis suggested that they kill Vicki by filling the syringe with bleach and an air bubble. In the kitchen, Davis put Vicki into a "sleeper" hold, trying to render her unconscious.
Davis injected Vicki with the syringe, but after a few minutes, the bleach did not kill her, so Davis stabbed her with a knife. Valessa's attorney says that her client was in a bedroom the entire time as the murder was carried out in the kitchen.
Shortly thereafter, the three heard moaning from the kitchen, so Davis grabbed the knife and left the room. Davis later told Whispel that he stabbed Vicki two more times and tried to break her neck.
A few hours later, the three cleaned the kitchen with bleach and towels. Davis put Vicki's body into a trash can, and loaded the trash can, along with shovels and a hoe into her van and drove to a wooded area to bury her. The digging was unsuccessful, so they concealed the trash can with foliage, planning to come back later.
The three later returned to Vicki's house and obtained her credit cards, cash, and ATM card since Valessa knew her mother's personal identification number. The three spent the next few days in Ybor City, using Vicki's money to get tattoos and stay at motels. They also purchased twenty bags of concrete, a bucket, and a trash can, with the intention of dumping the body in a canal. The three took off on a cross-country trip, trying to escape. But, they were caught in Texas.
Valessa was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In a jail house interview, she was remorseful and said, "I didn't want my mom to be gone. I didn't want to lose my mom."
Indeed, Athan says her client went from a lovesick teenager to a woman disgusted with her ex.
"She went from 'I'm going to sacrifice myself for him, I'm going to do whatever it takes to protect him' to 'you know, look what I've gotten involved in, and I've lost my mother over this crazy teenage stuff'," said Athan.
Valessa spent more than 15 years in prison, as is required by Florida law that inmates serve 85 percent of their time.
During her prison term, Valessa got her GED, taught aerobics, trained animals and developed an interest in nutrition, a career she might explore when she goes home with her father to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
"It's hard to believe that all those years have passed, I want her to have a full life, pick up where she left off, when she was 15 years old," Athan said.
"Thank you for the interest in our family story. You should talk to my sister. She is the story," Valessa's sister told 10 News.
Valessa says she's saddened by the negative public reaction about her release. She feels as though she's served her time and is ready to move on, in private.
In the end Athan says, "I'm not worried about her. Whatever she does when she gets out, she's going to be successful. She's going to have a good life."
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