Valessa Robinson, the troubled teen that helped kill her own mother in 1998, is scheduled to be released from prison on Friday after serving 15 years of a 20-year sentence. She was 15 at the time of her mother’s death, and 17 when convicted of third-degree murder.
Florida law dictates that 85 percent of the prison sentence must be served before being eligible for parole, but the courts applied the time Valessa was behind bars during the trial as time served.
The high profile case shocked the nation 15 years ago as the public tried to reconcile the innocent looking girl in a twinset and patent leather Mary Jane’s to the gruesome and gory details of what happened the night Vicki Robinson was murdered.
The single mom was described as a “bubbly real estate agent,” who was apparently struggling with her difficult teenage daughter. She was in her nightgown when she was killed by Valessa’s then-boyfriend Adam Davis, who attacked her with a bleach-filled syringe and then with a knife handed to him by their friend Jon Whispel. Both boys were 19.
Davis is currently on death row, and Whispel is serving 25 years as part of a plea deal. According to Whispel, it was Valessa’s idea to kill her mother, after learning that she was planning to put her into a residential facility for girls. He said that she straddled her mom to help hold her down on the floor.
After the conviction, Valessa had some disciplinary problems in prison for threats, contraband, and sex acts. Dee Ann Athan, a former attorney that has stayed close to Valessa, says that she’s since taken courses on fixing cars and building character, taught aerobics, donated her hair to Locks of Love, and studied nutrition.
Athan has likened the night of the murder to a perfect storm -- the tense mother-daughter relationship, the influence of the two older boys, and the LSD they were on. She believes that Valessa is remorseful and “wishes she had stopped what happened that night.”
"She's not thuggy. She's very well-spoken. She's smart. She's taken a really bad situation and made it a positive," Athan said.
Is it possible that Valessa is really reformed and able to rejoin society?
I like to think so. There’s a big difference between a troubled 15-year-old hopped up on hallucinogens and a 30-year-old woman that has spent 15 years growing up in prison.
I hope that she goes forward with her life as best as she can, and we never hear her name in connection to a crime again.
Do you think convicted murderers are capable of change?
Image via my_southborough/Flickr