In March 2015, Robert Robinson Jr., pictured, was gunned down on Seattle’s Beacon Hill. Months later, a 23-year-old told police the killing was “eating me alive,” according to a search warrant.
A former Seattle man now living on the East Coast phoned a Seattle police homicide detective in February and provided an out-of-the-blue confession, admitting his involvement in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Robert Robinson Jr. in March 2015, according to a search-warrant affidavit filed in the case.
The 23-year-old caller — who told the detective the killing of the Cleveland High School senior was “eating me alive” — also implicated a second suspect, a 24-year-old man who was killed in an unrelated shooting in West Seattle in October, says the warrant.
The affidavit for the search warrant, written in February by homicide Detective Frank Clark but not filed in King County Superior Court until last week, sought cellphone records for the two possible suspects in the days before and after Robinson was gunned down on north Beacon Hill.
The phone records will be used to plot GPS locations, identify potential witnesses, determine any phone contact between the two suspects, and help investigators “confirm or refute” whether the men are indeed responsible for killing Robinson, the warrant says.
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However, Clark wrote he believes the possible suspect “has provided information consistent with this crime that was not available to the general public,” including the caliber and type of firearm used in the shooting.
The Seattle Times does not typically identify criminal suspects until they have been formally charged. The 23-year-old, who moved to New York state in June, has not been arrested in connection with Robinson’s death, according to jail records in Seattle and in New York.
The 24-year-old was fatally shot last fall, apparently as a result of an ongoing dispute over a $200 drug debt. The Times is not naming him because his involvement in the shooting has not been confirmed.
Robinson was walking north on 15th Avenue South at South Forest Street when he was shot once in the chest just before 4 p.m. on March 15, 2015, Seattle police reported at the time. Witnesses told responding officers they heard gunfire and saw a blue Honda speeding away.
He died at Harborview Medical Center.
Robinson, who had previously attended Garfield High School and the Interagency Academy, was remembered as a thoughtful, funny and well-liked young man who was mourned by a large circle of friends.
Aside from the vehicle description provided by witnesses, it did not appear police had much information to go on.
Then in February, the now 23-year-old man contacted Detective Clark, who with another detective first conducted a phone interview before traveling to New York to interview him in person, the affidavit says.
According to the affidavit, the 23-year-old provided the following account:
The two men met Robinson on Beacon Hill on March 13, and the three went to the 23-year-old’s West Seattle apartment. At one point, Robinson went to use the bathroom and the 23-year-old rifled through the teen’s backpack; he said he intended to rob Robinson but was caught in the act.
Robinson was initially angry but calmed down and the three men “decided to drink some alcoholic beverage,” the warrant says.
The 23-year-old “said he became ill after drinking the alcohol and thought Robinson put something in his drink,” it says.
Two days later, the two men drove to the Beacon Hill area to look for Robinson “so they could shoot him … in retaliation for Robinson ‘poisoning’ ” the 23-year-old, the warrant says.
After shooting Robinson, the two men drove to Alki Beach, where the 23-year-old threw the gun in the water, he said.
According to the warrant, detectives confirmed the 24-year-old’s brother is the registered owner of a light blue 1993 Honda Civic coupe, a vehicle consistent with witness descriptions of the car seen fleeing the shooting scene.
After the fatal shooting, the men’s friendship dissolved, the warrant says. It is not clear whether the 23-year-old knew in February that his friend had been killed four months earlier.
The 23-year-old told detectives his friend had been the one to shoot Robinson, the warrant says. But when detectives confronted him “with some information that led investigators to believe” the 23-year-old may have been the shooter, he changed his story but then quickly recanted, it says.