I am a Killer (2018) s01e01 Episode Script

Justin Dickens

I accept full responsibility for the way my life turned out and stuff.
People always saying talking about how unfair the world is and stuff, ain't nobody ever said that life was meant to be fair.
People just got to accept that, man.
You know? There ain't no sense in just being bitter about it, you know? That's life.
I'm James Robertson, I'm 54.
I've been in prison for 37 years.
You know, I finished my original time way back in the, like, late '80s.
I've got a bunch of other time, uh I don't even really know how much time.
About a hundred years, I guess.
I got to the point where I said, "Fuck this shit.
I'm going on death row.
" And I walked up, I fired one shot.
And as I got closer, I fired one more shot.
She was shot through the cheek and it stopped in her jaw.
I drove him around behind a desk and I stabbed him approximately 25 times.
I couldn't believe it.
I just thought I can't believe I just killed somebody.
I don't feel bad about it.
I started stabbing him, stabbing the guy on the couch.
I had a pretty good childhood.
I, uh, spent my first, like, 12 years on the east side of Orlando.
It had kind of a It's kind of a back then, it had kind of a semi-rural feel to it even though it was, like, right outside of town.
As far as I'm concerned, I think we were, like, what you would call lower-middle-class.
Uh, I've lived in neighborhoods that were all white, I've lived in neighborhoods that were mixed.
I went to schools that were all white, I went to schools that were 90-percent black.
I've I've been, um, just all over, really, you know? I didn't go to school a lot of times.
When I was in junior high, I used to skip school all the time.
I used to love doing that.
And I loved hanging out on the streets, I loved using drugs, partying with friends.
Smoked a lot of pot.
I did other things, you know.
Acid, uh, PCP, uh using Quaaludes and valiums and cocaine.
Stuff like that.
I started getting locked up when I was 12, I think.
I had been stealing mostly.
I mean, kids' stuff like bicycles and stuff like that, you know.
I was 16.
I was hanging out on the streets and I would like, uh, see some place that looked like I could break into it or something, you know.
Get some money for the dope.
There was some little business across the street from my house.
I had already broke into there and stole the stereo.
You know, I took it to the dope man, you know, got some dope.
And I went back in there to steal, uh, some speakers.
And some security guards caught me.
And, uh, I got into a little wrestling match with them, and I thought I had a knife in my sock.
I tried to get the knife out and stab 'em so I could run off but I couldn't get to it.
They were both on top of me.
That's that's what I came to prison for.
Originally, I had a 10-year sentence.
Then I, uh something happened.
Uh, I was at Cross City Correctional Institution, some guy got killed.
I didn't kill him, but some other guys killed him, and I got 15 years for that.
Tried to escape one time.
I went to outside court, and I kicked a guard.
I tried to take his gun from him.
And then that's, you know, kinda at that point, I'd kinda kinda had a bad attitude.
And I caught a lot of time.
I used to stabbing dudes and stuff.
I was in a position where I was getting into fights all the time and I had a riot and all this stuff, you know.
All this bullshit, you know, so they made a big deal out of that, like, "Oh, man, that's terrible.
You was in a riot.
" And all this kind of stuff.
What the fuck you expect? You know? That's the stuff you expect, you should expect that to happen in prison, man.
It's prison.
You know, you got a lot of bad guys in here and of course, inmates are gonna get into stuff like that.
You know what I mean? But they'll say that I'm the troublemaker.
I'm the guy that's the bad guy.
I got put on some kind of, like, long-term maximum-security status where you're locked in a cell all the time.
They took everything from me.
My TV, my property.
Man, that shit's man, that shit's torture, man.
You're locked in a cell all day.
I mean, you might get to come out a couple times a week for, like, two hours or something like that.
They'll put you in a little dog cage.
You just lose all motivation, man.
I mean, you you ain't getting no sun, really.
I got to live in humiliation every damn day.
The guards humiliate you all the damn time, they treat you like shit, you know.
Like they think you're a bug or something, you know.
Uh, it's crazy because the motherfuckers that they like are the bugs.
Every time you go to the CM board, first thing they tell you, something that you did back in the 1980s or the '90s or something.
"Oh, you got a bad history.
" Well, I say, "What's that got to do?" They say, "That's your record.
That's why it's called a record.
" They would use that as an excuse to keep me on CM.
Now, they're not treating all those inmates like that.
Some of those inmates, they'll get DRs and they'll let them out on the compound.
You know what I mean? I mean, you just sit in that cell all damn day, man.
That's inhumane.
I mean, that's crazy.
They just put somebody in a cell, man, and take all of his privileges from him for years and years and years, and I'm seeing all these other guys get off of CM.
I knew that they was gonna use any excuse that they could to keep me on CM.
Any excuse.
Finally, I-I got mad and I said, "I'm gonna go ahead and kill somebody.
" It was premeditated.
I wanted to get on death row.
So I said, "Well, I'll just go ahead and kill my cellmate.
" I pretty felt pretty confident I could I could overpower him.
He was a child molester.
And I didn't really want to have a child molester in my cell.
Believe me, it was premeditated.
All the way.
I waited until the guard's made his round.
I knew I had about a 25-minute window of opportunity.
I got behind him, I nudged him, you know, I woke him up.
I had some socks tied up.
I said, "You gonna let me tie you up or am I gonna kill you?" And he just said he said, "Neither.
" So I started struggling around with him.
Eventually, I overpowered him and strangled him.
It was like, it took about I don't know.
About six minutes, five or six minutes.
Four minutes, maybe.
I don't feel bad about it.
You think that's something, don't you? I just got to the point where I said, "Fuck this shit.
I'm going on death row.
" Man, fuck that CM shit.
I'm tired of living in humiliation every day.
Fuck that.
You looking at me like, you think, "Man, that guy crazy, man.
" I met James several years ago when I was making rounds in the confinement units.
I noticed him because he had a very angry face.
You could tell immediately that this guy was like a pressure cooker waiting to blow.
He did not talk to his peers, he didn't talk to the staff, he didn't talk to anyone.
But his quietness was something that was daunting to me.
And his look in his eyes.
He did not look at you, he looked through you.
My name is Anne Otwell, and I've been at Charlotte Correctional since '92.
I'm a staff nurse there, and at the time, uh, I was working in the medical department, uh, taking care of close management and open population.
In close management, we deal with a lot of frustration, a lot of anger, a lot of attempted suicides because of the fact that they are isolated.
They don't have the amount of phone calls, they don't have the amount of visits that general population has, they don't have the freedom.
After a while, some inmates, it just gets to them.
They sleep most of the day.
But if you go by close management at night, they're up all night and they're fighting with amongst one another.
One room and the other, you can hear them all night long.
So, close management brings a whole different flavor to the pot.
From the moment that James entered prison, he did not like the rules and regulations of the penal system.
He didn't like the rules and regulations of close management.
He did, however, want death row.
And their rules and regulations are very, very, very simple, and he could handle that.
Death row and there's a big difference between death row and close management.
It would be like going from the slums to Beverly Hills.
They have their own TV, they have their own bedspread if they want to, the food is quite different.
They have their own nurse.
They have their own exercise area, and, uh, it's quiet.
Death row, you can hear a pin drop.
And surprisingly enough, they have this camaraderie with one another, that they're all there together.
And so, death row for them is a safe haven.
But the other thing is, in their mind's eye, they know they're not gonna be executed tomorrow.
They know that they're gonna be there for maybe 25 years.
So they know that they're not gonna be going any place but the row.
They have come home.
And that's how the majority of them look at it.
They love death row.
Some people say that James killed Frank Hart just to get better living conditions.
My feeling is an inmate that is like James is very narcissistic, and I think he wanted to be on death row, um, to show everybody that he made it.
It's just like going to medical school when you graduate.
To In his mind, he made death row.
And whether it be because he could have TV or better food, he made it because of his narcissistic thinking that he wanted to make something of his life that everybody would remember.
Uh, my name's Robert Lynch.
I did four years in a one-man cell.
Close Management 1, so I'm pretty familiar with close management.
I've been in several prisons with, uh, James Robertson.
"Chicken Head.
" Um Uh, I'm pretty sure that we started off together in the late '80s at Sumter Correctional.
I know him pretty well.
I know him pretty good.
I I can't imagine why he would say I'm a friend.
I think he's a piece of shit.
I don't hang out with him.
He's not my drinking buddy.
He's not I mean, he's not - I don't know why.
- I don't, I I don't know why he would say that he's my I'm his friend or he's my friend.
I mean, I've messed up, I've come to prison, but if I give you my word, it's good.
I'm not gonna pick on somebody that's defenseless.
That's not his outlook.
His outlook is if he thinks that he can do something to you and get by with it, he'll do it.
If he thinks he can't get away with it, he won't.
You know, and for me that's that's a coward.
Chicken Head's problem is his knife, his violence.
If he has a problem, he goes and gets his knife, when he could probably just beat somebody up.
You don't wanna just kill somebody to be killing them.
That's his first thought, is he'll go and get his knife about small little minute things.
I think James got deeper problems.
I don't think prison was his problem.
I think his he had his problems when he got here.
And it just rolled over.
I mean, if you wanna get off CM, and you want off CM, all you have to do is do what you're supposed to.
That's all they want you to do.
They're not asking they don't ask you to do anything grand.
They don't want you to do anything special.
All that When you go on CM, all you have to do is what you're supposed to do, for a certain period of time.
And they'll say, "Get back out there in population.
" So, him saying that, oh, me talking about what I've done in '80s and '90s is, is bringing up this or causing me to do this, that's a cop-out, which is doesn't surprise me with him.
You can come here and get better, and you can come here and get worse.
It's up to you, really.
What you choose.
You can choose to come here and stay forever if you want.
All you got to do is pick up a knife and start poking holes in people.
Kill one of them and you're never getting out.
Chicken Head is never going to change.
He's always gonna be a threat.
He will always be a threat to security.
He'll always be a threat to the people around him, he'll always be a threat to himself.
If he's done with living and he's, and he's tired of living, get up on the top bunk in that two-man cell.
Dive off! Dive off, swan-dive.
If you're really tired, dive off.
You know what I mean? Get your razor-blade, one time.
It's over.
That's what people do when they're tired of living.
He's still alive.
He ain't tired of living.
When James first came to me, told me that's what he wanted, he wanted the death penalty, I had asked myself, "Can this be done?" Can someone actually plead to the death penalty? I never had anything like that happen before.
My name is Mark De Sisto.
I'm the attorney for James Robertson who is present to my left.
He's the defendant in this matter.
This is case number 09812F.
"I have instructed and continue to instruct my attorney, Mark C.
De Sisto, Esq.
, to seek the charge to be amended to First Degree Murder by indictment and further to seek the penalty of death.
" I was actually Mr.
Robertson's fifth attorney.
He had four previous attorneys.
His last attorney removed himself because they, uh, developed some animosity over the issue of pleading to a death penalty.
All his attorneys I spoke to said he was a level-headed guy, they could get along with him.
He wasn't disruptive or violent or anything in their dealings with him.
They just said that he was set on getting the death penalty and they he just would not listen to them and that wasn't on the table at the time.
The first meeting I had with Mr.
Robertson lasted approximately 15, 20 seconds.
He was in lockup at the courthouse, And I introduced myself, told him I'd be on his case, asked him if it was true he was seeking the death penalty in his case.
He said, "Yes.
" And I told him I'd be in touch with him soon.
It was a short meeting.
I didn't know how to take him, I didn't know what to expect when I first met him.
But he seemed happy, I guess is the word, that I was getting on the case.
I was aware that Mr.
Robertson spent quite a bit of time in, uh, close management.
The closest other clients I've ever had to anybody with a, uh, large amount of time was eight to nine months.
I've never heard of anybody besides Mr.
Robertson that I've represented that's spent nearly their entire life in close management.
I would imagine it would destroy the mind.
I mean, uh, it's got to affect your psyche in some way.
I I don't see it ever helping an individual.
Of course a lot of people questioned me right at the beginning, wondering why my client would want to, uh, have the death penalty imposed and whether or not I thought he was sane or not.
Prior to me being assigned, uh, the main defense that was explored from the fourth attorney that was assigned on the case was the defense of insanity.
And in legal jargon, uh, insanity is where you have to determine whether or not the defendant understands the difference between right and wrong when he commits the crime.
The State of Florida determines the sanity of the defendant by having two doctors look at the individual.
Both the psychologist and psychiatrist did agree that Mr.
Robertson was sane at the time he committed this crime, and the judge adopted that finding of the doctors.
Everybody has a story to tell.
Everybody does things right, everybody does things wrong.
The pre-sentence investigation is digging into James Robertson as a person and not as an inmate.
This is going to be read by everyone involved in this case and I am outlining what they don't know about this inmate and that is his socio-economic background.
Who are his parents? Where did he go to school? How much education did he have? Um Drug and alcohol abuse, uh, psychological counseling.
That's what the PSI is trying to do through that person's cooperation.
"Give me your story.
" So I actually interviewed James Robertson, was very truthful with him, let him know who I was, why I was at the jail to interview him.
And I, I felt that he was cooperative.
He, he didn't act nasty, um, he didn't give me, um, any reason to feel uncomfortable.
And an hour, an hour and a half, we talked.
Violence is a part of James Robertson because violence was a part of his upbringing.
Problem with his mother and father.
He explained that he got hit with switches, parents' divorce, remarried, divorced, alcohol, yes.
It was there, it was brewing, it was bubbling.
And of course that leads you to this prior record.
And it's a long prior record.
There's a pattern of violence with James Robertson that starts slowly.
He's 12 years old, first offense is nothing more than shoplifting.
Kid stuff, all right? But then it increases to burglary.
And then, even though he's sent to a boys' school, he's ungovernable.
All right? He's just an impossible person to deal with.
Truancy, fighting.
The pattern, it's, it's growing.
And it followed him right up until the day he stood up in front of that judge in Orange County, Florida, and got ten years consecutive.
And the interesting thing about this was that when he was charged, he wasn't even 17 for another 15 days.
And so I wonder, could the court have gone a different way, because in juvenile court it's about rehabilitation.
In adult court, it's not always.
It's a lot about punishment.
And this was his punishment.
But he compounded it, he didn't conform, he went about another crime spree in prison.
I mean, 79 disciplinary reports speaks for itself.
But then you have aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, one count.
He's got introducing a weapon into the facility.
Unarmed assault, attempted assault, participating in riots.
I mean, it was a full circle of just about everything you can do wrong.
Here's a man in the worst possible confinement, close management.
A horrible existence, inside the wall, and it doesn't slow him down.
It feeds the fire, it gives him a new drive.
I truly believe that some inmates are not cured with close management.
They become hardened, worse, aggressive, dangerous.
And I believe James Robertson was that kind of a person, because of all the time he spent in close management, he became worse.
He became more aggressive, calculating, cruel.
And I truly believe that inmate Hart, his cellmate in 2008, was a means to his end.
The recommendation portion of the pre-sentence investigation, the last stop.
After gathering everything, after analyzing everything, if found guilty, the recommendation would be for the death penalty.
Did I make this recommendation to reward James Robertson? No, I didn't.
I'm not rewarding this person.
It was a heinous cruel act.
The aggravating circumstances well outweighed the mitigating circumstances and it called for the death penalty.
I asked Mr.
Robertson right at the beginning, "Why would you want to have the death penalty? What's your reasoning behind that?" He said, "I'm getting older.
I look at the guy in the cell across from me, he's going blind, he's 65, he gets pushed around more, he gets messed with more by other people, guards, be they inmates, whoever.
And I don't want that kind of life.
I don't want that for me as I get older.
I used to be able to do the violence but now I'll be the one that's getting the violence done to me.
And I just don't wanna put up with that.
" That's why he wants the death penalty.
He just doesn't wanna get old and be preyed upon.
Does Robertson deserve sympathy? Yeah, I think he probably does.
I mean, obviously, he was the individual that committed the crime that put him in prison, but again, prior to going to prison, he was a young man, he was still a kid in my eyes, at 17 years old.
He had no parenting.
My understanding, his parents were alcoholic and substance abusers.
He had no guidance.
When you start adding all those things up and looking at everything he's been through, especially being in close management, yeah, I probably think he deserves some sympathy.
I don't see him as this evil person that, uh, must be killed, that's his choice, I know.
But I don't see him as this person that has no redeeming value whatsoever.
I will go to his execution.
That's a 100 percent, uh, thing I've wanted to do from the very beginning.
I'm thinking I'll probably be the only friendly face he'll recognize there.
I don't want him to be put to death, not knowing that someone was there on his side up until the end.
So I plan on being in that same room and, uh, I keep close tabs on it, and whenever it's ordered, I'll be there.
My name's Darrell Moshor, uh, I live in Greenville, Tennessee, I'm married and I've got three children.
Uh, James Robertson is my cousin.
Uh, his mother and my mother are sisters.
I moved to Tennessee from Florida August of 2006.
Wasn't until I moved here that I've seen my first snowfall.
James' family, his mother and father, for whatever reason, you know, they just forgot about him.
His two brothers haven't contacted him in over 25 years.
You know, they just didn't put any effort into helping him, you know, um, financially, or, you know, just in letters alone, makes a big difference being in there.
You know, there was no support whatsoever.
I'm the only one in contact with him now.
I got in touch with James probably I it was either 2013, 2014.
I'd like to, you know, give credit to God for that because he put it on my heart to, uh, contact him.
I knew he was in prison, I didn't know he was on death row.
Yeah, I just wrote him a letter, it was probably half a page long and, uh, soon after, I mean, he wrote me back.
So we've been in contact, probably, for about four years now.
Did you have fun today? When we first came into his life, he goes, "I hope you're a part of my life forever.
" He goes, "But you'll probably be like everybody else, come into my life for a month or two and then leave," you know.
And then I remember getting a letter from him, like, a year or so later, he goes, "I'm comfortable now, I know you're not gonna leave me.
" I think the cards stood out the most.
These are all from James.
Uh, this is a card that he wrote, uh, to my wife, Naomi, calls her sis.
He goes, "I wanna show my appreciation for what a wonderful job you do raising three adorable children.
For the sacrifices you make as well as being a loving, nurturing mother.
" You know, before, he would just say in closing, "See ya, Jimmy.
" Then it started going into, "Love you, bro.
" And then it was like, "Love you, Darrell.
" Now it's like, "May God bless you" or "May God keep His light shining on you" and you know, and "Love you guys a lot.
" It's almost like his hardened heart has been softened.
I think that the love that we show him, that he's never had before, it's just changed his whole life.
Since we've made contact with James something that he's said quite a few times, "I've never had a family, never had anybody to love, nobody loved me.
" You know, "I've never lived, I've only existed.
" You know.
Wow, the guy's never had a job.
He's never really been with a woman, you know.
Never got to experience having kids and, you know, never been married, and just all the things that we do in life, in this world, he's in a different world.
Do I think it's been a wasted life? Yeah, I think it's been a wasted life.
I think it all just began from when he was a toddler.
There's parents, mothers and fathers out there that love their kids to death, and that wasn't the case with his mom and dad.
He had a hard life growing up and then, of course, straight to prison when he was 16 or 17.
You know, it's not like he was born a monster or evil.
The guy's just never been loved.
I'm not sure when James is gonna be executed.
That's up to the State of Florida.
I talked to him about getting off of death row, you know.
So he can have more time with us.
But I was being selfish by asking him that because he'd rather be executed than live another 40 years in prison.
I will definitely be there.
Absolutely.
He needs somebody there.
I've thought about that.
You know.
I don't wanna be there but I know he wants me there.
He told me I didn't have to be there but I know he'd like me there.
And I think it's important.
I can't even express into words how good it feels to have somebody that cares about you like that.
You know what I mean? It's a good feeling.
It makes me feel a lot better, you know? It makes me wanna stay out of trouble because I don't wanna get in trouble.
I don't wanna lose my privilege to be able to go out there and see 'em and all that.
So it's, uh, it's like a carrot on a stick.
Sure, it's sad to see 'em go, you know? I accept full responsibility for, for, you know, having to spend the rest of my life in prison.
I accept full responsibility for that.
You know what I mean? I'm not gonna get angry, you know.
Bitter or something like that.
I used to be like that, real bitter.
I was bitter when I was always blaming everybody else for my, you know, for the way my life turned out and stuff.
But I stopped doing that.
And as a matter of principle, I gotta I got to face the music.
I got to man up.
I don't like hearing other people whine or talk about blaming the world and everything for all their problems.
Life ain't always fair.
People always saying, talking about how unfair the world is and stuff, ain't nobody ever said that life was meant to be fair, ain't nobody up, up on no cloud wearing a robe and cane, you know, saying, "I'm gonna make everything fair.
" They, they ain't like that, man.
You know? People just got to accept that, man.
You know? You're always trying to make the world better, a better place, you know.
But, you know, ain't nothing perfect.
I just wish that these guards, man, that they would make a system that's more humane, man.
Let the inmates all go out into the population.
I'd be a lot more sane right now if I hadn't been locked in a cell for all them years.
I'm ready, man.
I'm ready to go.
You know, I stopped my appeal, you know.
And I'm, I'm ready to go, man.
I've been ready, you know? You know, you asked me last time when you was up here "What you gonna what are you gonna feel two years from now?" Man, I've been ready, man, you know? - It's over, man, you know.
- I've done did all my time.
I'm It's like getting a transfer or something, man.
It's over with now.
Feel like I'm cheating them, huh? You know, but there's a long-ass list, man.
There's a hundred and something inmates or something, uh, death row guys that are waiting, so I don't know how, how long It might be a long time.
Could be quick, I don't know.
I already know how they do it, the whole procedure and everything.
They come up, they put you in some kind of Like a cast thing that they wrap around you to keep your arms from moving because they think you might start struggling or something, which I wouldn't do, you know.
But that's just I don't know.
Maybe they just do it to sensationalize the whole event, you know.
To make it "Wow, they're strapping 'em up like Hannibal Lecter or Yeah, whatever.
I don't know.
But, uh You know, I'm okay with it.
All they do is shoot a damn needle.
I'm You know, I'd much rather have a needle stuck in me than be electrocuted, you know.
But I could, I could go either way.
Because, you know, you All that shit you read about in the newspapers about how inhumane, uh, they put you to death, that's a bunch of bullshit.
I mean, come on, man.
They shoot somebody with some damn chemical that knocks you out and puts you to sleep, you don't know what the hell.
You ain't feeling nothing.
One last question, if you have any sort of very brief message you wanna convey or a way that you wanna be remembered, what would you say? Uh Somebody that always speaks the truth.
You know?