Man pleads guilty in woman's death

Victim was found stomped in Westminster in June

sentencing set for May

January 28, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A 37-year-old Westminster man admitted yesterday stomping a woman to death last summer.

Donald L. Robertson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death in June of a woman who, prosecutors said, he had blamed for his drunken-driving arrest.

Robertson, of the 100 block of Pennsylvania Ave., could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. Prosecutors dropped a first-degree murder charge against him.

Prosecutors said Robertson bragged of killing Sharon R. Yelton, 47, and was seen burning a bag containing his bloody clothes and shoes after the killing. The woman's body was found shortly after daybreak June 16 on Winters Street, behind the first block of W. Main St. in Westminster.

The key piece of evidence, said senior assistant state's attorney Clarence W. Beall, were shoeprints found on Yelton's face and her body.

During a hearing in Carroll County Circuit Court, prosecutors submitted a pair of black-and-white Nike Jordan Moss'afied shoes as evidence of the shoe that matched the prints.

"People saw him with those shoes," Beall said. "They're like fingerprints. It was the same shoe that was on her face."

Prosecutors said that Robertson stomped Yelton's face, neck and head. She died of asphyxia and blunt force injuries to her head and neck, according to a medical examiner's report.

Prosecutor Kelly Galvin recited a statement of facts that she said supported the guilty finding.

She said Yelton, with no fixed address, had been seen at a Pennsylvania Avenue neighborhood block party the evening of June 15.

Robertson had been charged the night before with driving under the influence of alcohol in Westminster. He told the arresting officer that he was a hit man for organized crime and uttered other "tough guy talk," Beall said. Robertson said he was having hallucinations and was detained at the emergency room of Carroll County General Hospital until noon June 15.

He went out drinking that night and told witnesses that he was going to take revenge against an unnamed woman for putting him in jail. He also went to the home of Yelton's son, Shawn, who sent Robertson away.

Robertson ended up at a girlfriend's apartment in downtown Westminster. She said that he left in the middle of the night to get cigarettes and when he came back about 2:30 a.m. he had blood on his hands and told her, "This is basically what happens when somebody" angers him, Galvin said.

The woman told him to leave the apartment, and Robertson ended up at another woman's apartment on Pennsylvania Avenue about an hour later. There, he put the clothes he had been wearing into a trash bag.

About noon June 16, Robertson showed up at a cookout at his cousin's house in Taneytown. Several witnesses told police that he boasted about killing a woman in Westminster, laughing about it. The witnesses said he threatened them, saying, "You didn't know nothing, see nothing or hear nothing."

There, Robertson was seen using 5 gallons of gas to burn a bag of bloody clothes and shoes, prosecutors said.

One of the relatives called police that afternoon and said Robertson, upon hearing that a Westminster woman had been shot, said, "Did they find any bullets? Because I stomped her head in," Galvin told the court.

That night, Robertson was arrested at Steele Horse Grill & Saloon, on the outskirts of Taneytown, in Yelton's death. He also was charged with assault for resisting arrest.

Galvin said Robertson told the arresting officers, "I got some ... steel feet, don't I?"

Robertson denied making the statement.

While in jail to await trial, another inmate, Antoine Smith, said that Robertson said that he had been locked up for killing a woman who stole his money for drugs, and that he wasn't sorry for what he did. Robertson denied having the conversation with Smith.

Robertson, wearing khaki pants, a striped rugby pullover rolled up above his elbows and a gray T-shirt underneath, occasionally held his head in his hands as the prosecutor recited the evidence against him. He turned repeatedly to look at about 10 people who were in court to support Yelton's survivors.

Yelton's daughter, Deborah Campbell-Morris, 27, said Robertson "didn't get what he deserved. He deserved first-degree murder." The Harford County resident said she and her brother, Shawn Yelton, 20, feel that, "Nobody deserves to be brutally murdered like that." The mother of three children, Campbell-Morris added, "She wasn't just a mother, she was a grandmother."

Carroll Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Robertson, who said he takes anti-psychotic medication. Sentencing is scheduled for May 7.

Robertson, who has been held since his arrest in June, will continue to be held without bond.

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