Less than two years after he was acquitted of killing one woman, a jury today found Michael T. Robinson II innocent of harassing another -- a former girlfriend who stood by him during the first trial.
Following a day-long trial before City Judge Margaret R. Anderson, a jury of three women and three men deliberated just 17 minutes before finding Robinson, 25, innocent of aggravated harassment. He was accused of making telephone death threats last year to his former girlfriend, Valerie M. Badame.
Robinson didn't testify but denied the charges.
At the verdict, Robinson, who faced a possible one-year jail term, and his mother smiled; his father, stepmother and current girlfriend held hands. Ms. Badame ran from the fifth-floor courtroom muttering expletives.
A State Supreme Court jury acquitted Robinson, a former Buffalo bar musician now working for a financial securities business, of murder Feb. 14, 1996. Robinson was cleared of charges connected to the fatal beating of college student Wendy Kashuba in his Sanders Road flat on July 9, 1994.
Ms. Kashuba's body was discovered in a crude grave site outside the Robinson family cottage in Irving on Sept. 30, 1994. During the murder trial, which Ms. Badame sat through, a former Buffalo drug dealer and bank robber claimed he helped Robinson bury the 24-year-old woman's body.
During the murder trial, Robinson testified that the alleged accomplice, Kurt Bogardus, killed Ms. Kashuba and forced him to help bury her body.
Robinson said today that his latest legal problems were due to "a witch hunt" by the Erie County district attorney's office.
"I'm just happy that the jury returned the correct verdict; they did the right thing," Robinson said.
George Muscato, the attorney who defended Robinson in this week's trial, said the jury correctly reviewed the evidence, based on the conflicting testimony of Ms. Badame and Melanie Marciano, Robinson's current girlfriend.
Ms. Badame told the jury Tuesday that Robinson had telephoned her home repeatedly between 3:30 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. June 3, 1996. She said Ms. Marciano was with her, as were two other men. She said Robinson repeatedly had threatened to kill her and Ms. Marciano and bury their bodies.
Ms. Marciano, 22, testified that Robinson called Ms. Badame's apartment at about 12:30 a.m. the night of the alleged threats and spoke to Ms. Marciano because at the time she and Robinson "were having problems."
Ms. Marciano said Robinson hung up the phone after telling Ms. Marciano he didn't want to talk, and he did not call back that morning.
Later, Ms. Badame told her that Robinson had telephoned again and had called Ms. Badame "a fat, cellulite bitch," which prompted Ms. Badame to say she would call the police about Robinson, Ms. Marciano said.
Ms. Marciano also told the jury Ms. Badame told her that morning that Robinson "said he was going to kill us both and bury us," but she insisted, "I didn't believe her."