CLAYTON — Donnie Marler’s life changed greatly Jan. 1, 2008, after being struck by State Rep. Brad Robinson’s pickup truck.
On Thursday afternoon during Robinson’s sentencing hearing, Marler said he suffered significant injuries from the accident and has lost his job.
He said life has been so stressful that it’s hard to get up and face each new day. With a previous injury and these new injuries, he said he is in constant pain.
After hearing brief statements from Marler and Robinson, Circuit Judge James Hartenbach suspended the imposition of sentence and placed Robinson on five years of supervised probation for the Class D felony of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. He told Robinson to report to the Probation and Parole office in St. Louis after he left the courtroom.
As part of his probation and without interfering with a civil suit, Robinson was ordered to pay the actual out-of-pocket expenses Marler has assumed that the insurance doesn’t cover. Special Prosecuting Attorney Jack Banas said Marler has about $55,000 in hospital bills.
If he violates his probation, Robinson could be sentenced up to four years in prison.
The judge had found Robinson guilty of the charge in February after a two-day bench trial in St. Louis County on a change of venue from St. Francois County.
Before sentencing Thursday, Robinson read a statement to the judge.
“No one else is at fault for me being here,” he said.
He said all of his life, he’s tried to help people, not hurt people.
Robinson, a Democrat, served as a state representative for the 107th district from 2004 to 2008. In 2008, he opted not to run for another term.
He has previously served on the North County School Board, on the Pilot Knob City Council and as an Iron County Commissioner.
Robinson said he made a terrible choice that night by allowing his wife to say she was driving. He said he knew better as he has strived to be a man of high character.
Robinson said he was sorry for Marler’s sufferings.
About 20 of Robinson’s friends and family members were in the courtroom to show their support. The judge said he received several letters in support of Robinson.
Banas said he believes the judge heard all of the evidence at trial and made his decision based on the evidence and Robinson’s lack of any criminal history.
“Sometimes the worst punishment a person can get is public humiliation …” Banas said.
Marler said he had no comment about the sentence Robinson received, but indicated the outcome was what he expected. He reportedly has filed a civil suit in St. Francois County against Robinson seeking damages, including lost wages.
Robinson’s attorney, Travis Noble, told the media that his client didn’t wish to make a statement. However, Noble indicated Robinson’s apologies did not admit guilt to causing the accident or leaving the scene, but rather about switching drivers.
He said there were witnesses who said Marler had been in the road that night and there were drivers who had to drive around him. He also said Marler has continued changing the amount of alcohol he said he was drinking that night.
To read complete coverage of the Robinson case, including the trial, visit https://www.dailyjournalonline.com/coverage/brad_robinson/
According to police reports, when Lt. Chris Thurman and Officer Chad Brown responded to a call for a man lying in the roadway, they saw Marler being tended to by ambulance personnel.
At the scene, Brown approached two females, one later identified as Brad’s wife, Tara, and asked them if they saw what happened. Tara said she saw the man in the ditch and tried to help him. Brown also found a broken black mirror, which appeared to be from the vehicle that struck Marler.
A half hour after they received the call, Sheriff Dan Bullock called Thurman and asked him to come to Robinson’s home. Robinson had reportedly called the sheriff from the scene and asked him to respond.
Thurman examined their truck, a black Ford F-150, and observed fresh damage to the truck and its broken mirror.
“Tara Robinson then filled out a written statement, stating that she was driving when she struck something and went back and saw a man laying on the side of the road,” the police report states. “On the form (that) Tara wrote her statement is a warning that false statements on this form are punishable by law.”
Other passengers in the vehicle completed written statements at the time that “concurred” with the Robinsons’ statements.
After police watched a North County High School surveillance video, the passengers were reinterviewed independently. They said Robinson was driving when the truck struck the man on Raider Road. They said Tara told them to tell police that she was driving and not her husband.
Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.