Demopolis native sentence in brutal murder

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 18, 2006

Demopolis native Timothy Robertson had only been in Illinois for three weeks when he met 46-year-old Steven Tate for a drug deal in the Chicago suburb of Waukegan in June 2003.

Tate had to borrow $40 from his ex-wife to buy the cocaine 20-year-old Robertson was selling, according to Lake County, Ill., prosecutors. But Robertson upped the price by $10. Tate didn’t have the money, and when he asked for his $40 back, Robertson refused.

The argument between the two men escalated into a fight, and the six-foot tall, 250-pound Robertson “brutally beat and kicked Tate for an extended period, laughing and taunting him,” lead prosecutor Bolling Haxall said during Robertson’s sentencing hearing.

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“He left him in a pool of blood,” Haxall added.

Robertson won’t be returning to Demopolis any time soon, as Lake County Circuit Court Judge James Booras sentenced the 23-year-old to 34 years in prison Wednesday.

According to court records, Robertson knocked Tate down at least three times. Tate tried to crawl way, according to Haxall, but collapsed near an apartment complex. He later died.

Robertson’s attorney, public defender John Murphy, said his client “never intended to kill anyone,” and his prior record was for two misdemeanors.

“Since he was 11 years old, his only job has been selling drugs, making up to $1,500 a day,” Haxall said. While in the county jail, Robertson earned time in a maximum security cell for gambling and extortion.

“Rehabilitation is a real goal for some defendants, not for Robertson,” Haxall said. “A sentence of at least 45 years in prison would be appropriate.”

Murphy recommended a sentence of “close to the minimum.” First-degree murder carries a sentencing range of 20 to 60 years in prison, with no option of probation.

Booras said Robertson used “his enormous size and strength to inflict, not only harm, but death on the victim.”

Robertson “does not hesitate to use violence and is a threat to society,” Booras said, adding that the infractions in jail indicate Robertson cannot be rehabilitated.

“He is a product of drugs and violence, and a part of society that thrives on the suffering of others,” Booras said. “I sentence the defendant to 34 years in the Department of Corrections. He must serve 100 percent of the sentence, with no good time credit.”

For the separate aggravated battery conviction, based on the jail beating, Robertson will appear for sentencing Thursday before Associate Judge Theodore Potkonjak. That sentence will be served consecutive to the murder sentence.

– Information obtained by the Waukegan News Sun ( contributed to this report.