PRESTONSBURG — James “Red” Robinson, husband of Martin Mayor Thomasine Robinson, was given a reprieve Friday morning, when District Judge Eric Hall set aside his guilty plea.
Robinson, was arrested following a recanvass of the Martin mayoral race, after he allegedly made verbal threats against the presumed winner of that race, Sam Howell. Last Tuesday, Robinson appeared in court without an attorney, and after pleading guilty to the charges of terroristic threatening and menacing, was taken into custody.
Steve Owens appeared in court later Tuesday, purportedly to represent Robinson, and made an oral motion that Robinson’s guilty plea be set aside, which was denied by District Judge Eric Hall.
Friday morning, Owens appeared again before Judge Hall asking that the court allow Robinson to rescind his guilty plea.
Owens told Judge Hall that Robinson entered the guilty plea without understanding what the maximum penalties were.
County Attorney Keith Bartley said it was hard to respond to a motion which he had not been presented, but stated Robinson’s change of heart had nothing to do with procedure, and everything to do with him not being released on Tuesday.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with procedure,” said Bartley. “It has to do with the fact that he didn’t walk back through those doors.”
Bartley said he has “multiple independent witnesses” to the event and doesn’t mind trying the case.
Judge Hall allowed Robinson to rescind his guilty plea, saying, “People should feel things here are done fairly.”
But Hall did not let Robinson completely off the hook. Hall said Robinson is to be held in strict home confinement.
“If you violate that even once, you will go back to jail,” Judge Hall told Robinson.
According to the criminal complaint, which was issued by Mayor-elect Sam Howell, James Robinson threatened to physically assault him.
County Attorney Keith Bartley confirmed that witnesses on the county Board of Elections heard Robinson make threats to Howell before the recanvass began.
Terroristic threatening is a Class A misdemeanor and could result in a $500 fine and up to 12 months in jail. Menacing is a Class B misdemeanor, which could result in a 90-day jail sentence and $250 fine.
Robinson is scheduled for a court date on April 29, at 9:30 a.m.