A Johns Island man described by prosecutors as a lifelong criminal was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday on charges that he broke into a stranger’s home in West Ashley and ransacked the place.
Otis Maurice Robinson of River Road, whose rap sheet dates back about 25 years, will not be eligible for parole under Circuit Judge Knox McMahon’s sentence.
The 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office announced Thursday that he was convicted of first-degree burglary during a jury trial Tuesday. Robinson had turned 44 years old the day before.
Assistant Solicitor Stephanie Linder, who got help prosecuting the case from Assistant Solicitor Lindsey Byrd, told jurors that Robinson broke into the victim’s house on May 31, 2011, by shattering a rear window. He was “in the middle of looking for loot” when the homeowner returned and saw him, according to the solicitor’s office statement.
He ran away as the resident phoned for help, and officers from the Charleston Police Department found him a few blocks away.
Robinson still had property plundered from the house, the statement said. Investigators also matched Robinson to some blood and a fingerprint found near the shattered window, it stated.
The Police Department’s “quick response and thorough investigation helped us finally bring this lifelong criminal to justice,” Linder said in the statement.
Before the trial’s end, prosecutors filed paperwork to require a mandatory sentence of a lifetime behind bars for Robinson, if he were convicted.
The burglary charge normally carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
But Robinson’s prior convictions made him eligible for the elevated sentence in the sentencing guidelines, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson explained.
Robinson spent time in prison for assaulting a Charleston police officer while resisting arrest in 2002 and had just left prison on a second-degree burglary conviction when he broke into the West Ashley house.
For his latest conviction, he started serving time Wednesday at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia.
Wilson said the verdict and Robinson’s sentence exemplified how cooperation from victims and witnesses can bring “solid results.”
“Hats off to the victim ... who stuck with this case until the very end,” Wilson said. “He showed up. He testified. He did a fantastic job.”
Contact Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.