A Cleveland man avoided a potential death penalty by admitting to fatally shooting a man and carrying out a string of armed robberies in 2015.
Robert Yates, 31, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the September 25, 2015 killing of Roderick Redwine. He also pleaded guilty to 19 counts of aggravated robbery and a host of other charges in a two-month crime spree in which mostly targeted victims at restaurants and businesses in the neighborhood. Cleveland reported.
Cuyahoga County Judge John Sutula immediately sentenced Yates to life in prison with his first chance at parole after 42 years sentencing.
Yates reached a plea deal on the day he was set to stand trial on charges that, if convicted, made him eligible for the death penalty.
“Cleveland’s streets are much safer with this conviction,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement through a spokesman.
One of Yates’s attorney, Tom Shaughnessy, said he was confident there was enough mitigation evidence to convince a jury not to recommend that Yates face death penalty.
Yates dropped out of elementary school after sixth grade, quickly fell into trouble in the streets and spent much of his teenage years in the juvenile system, Shaughnessy said.
The deal is a fair end to the case, Shaughnessy said.
After sentencing, the mothers of Yates and Redwine shared a crying hug and agreed that mothers have to support each other in the face of gun violence that takes away their sons, according to attorneys in the courtroom at the time.
Surveillance cameras captured Redwine’s death at Deep’s Liquor Store on Central Avenue near East 74th Street.
The 40-year-old man was walking out of the store about 11 p.m. when Yates tried to rob him. Yates, who was on a bicycle outside the store, pointed a pistol at Redwine.
Redwine grabbed the gun, and the two struggled. Yates punched Redwine in the head, then fired a single shot into Redwine’s chest.
Redwine fell to the ground. Yates took Redwine’s wallet and rode away on the bicycle.
Rayshun Tyree, who was with Yates but did not participate in the robbery, pleaded guilty last year to obstruction of justice and failure to report a felony in the incident. He was sentenced to probation.
Tyree, 33, was shot and killed in October before he finished serving his sentence. No arrests have been made in his killing.
Cleveland police detectives tied Yates to 13 more robberies that happened between Aug. 22, 2015, and his arrest two months later. Yates shot a store clerk in the back during one of the robberies.
Redwine and a revolving group that included a teenage boy and Amound Richardson carried out robberies at a Rally’s restaurant, Shell gas station, a Burger King and an RTA station all in the city’s Central neighborhood.
Third district detectives were investigating those robberies while homicide was probing Redwine’s death. Tips from the public and cooperating witnesses led them to Redwine, who went by the nickname “June,” prosecutors said.
Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police arrested Yates after responding to a domestic dispute on Oct. 12. Yates had on him the handgun that was used in Redwine’s killing, prosecutors said.
Richardson was sentenced to four years in federal prison last year for his role in one of the robberies.