The prosecutor in Los Angeles took the position that Robby Robinson was lying because he had failed a police polygraph administered by the Beverly Hills Police Department. This fact has been widely circulated. What people do not know is that Joe later hired a former high-level polygrapher that had worked in his long and storied career both for the FBI and the CIA. Robbie agreed to undergo another polygraph. This time the polygrapher reported that Robbie passed with flying colors.
Moreover, Robbie was actually called as a witness in the 1992 trial in San Mateo and the jurors that provided declarations reported that they found him highly credible. Those declarations are available through the freejoehunt.com website. Also, a summary of Robinson’s testimony is in the Appellate opening brief which can be downloaded on the website.
Thus, the notion that Robinson’s testimony was debunked, is a canard. A strong inference to be drawn is that Beverly Hills Police Department’s polygrapher was playing “team ball” when he reported that Robinson had failed the polygraph.
Robinson came forward as a witness during the 1987 trial, on April 17th to be precise. The prosecutor (Fred Wapner) disclosed to the defense the existence of the witness on Sunday, April 21st. Joe was convicted on April 22nd. Arthur Barens (Joe’s defense attorney in the 1987 trial), purporting to be dismayed by the results of the polygraph, declined to interview the witness or do an independent investigation of the sighting. Subsequently, it was discovered that Arthur Barens had a personal reason, what they call in the law a conflict of interest, that made him disinclined to investigate or present sightings witnesses. If you would like to inform yourself as to the nature of this conflict of interest, and it is a fascinating read, download the PDF file of Joe’s Federal opening brief. It is described there in detail.
Polygraph exams are inadmissible under California law, under Evidence Code section 351.1. Thus the police polygraph exam should have been ignored by the prosecutor.
So, in sum, what happened with Robbie Robinson was just another aspect of the miscarriage of justice that was the 1987 trial.
Robbie Robinson had prior interaction with Ron Levin. Levin had a front that he operated through called Network News. He used that front to gain press credentials and to scam various companies out of equipment. For example, he took a privately owned company called Garden Photo for over $100,000. Levin would then resell the equipment across the border in Mexico.
In any event, Levin had a boyfriend called Neil Antin. Neil actually wanted to be a journalist. In order to please Neil, Levin set up Network News. The two would go out to the scenes of serious accidents and other breaking news stories. In the course of several such excursions, they crossed paths with Robbie Robinson.
Robbie reported to the police in April of 1987 that he had run into Levin in October 1986 while waiting to see a movie in Westwood. The two spoke.
Thus, Robinson’s report was similar to that of Nadia Ghaleb. She was a professional, a maitre d’ during the heyday of Mr. Chow’s, then the most popular restaurant in Los Angeles. She reported that she saw Levin in Los Angeles in February of 1987. She recalled him because of his ostentatious and flamboyant behavior as a patron of Mr. Chow’s in the late 70s and early 80s. She waited on him many times and spoke to him. She saw him in the company of Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol.
On hearing of these two sightings, people that did not ever meet Ronald Levin, have been known to wonder why he would reappear in Los Angeles close to or during the time of the trial.
The San Mateo jurors, who found these witnesses credible, recognized two things. First, that fugitives often are recaptured near wherever their previous base of operation was. That is where friends and relatives are. Second, they recognized that Levin often displayed erratic and unpredictable behavior. For example, he famously walked into an autopsy room at UCLA, where they kept cadavers for the medical students, convinced the local staff that he was an adjunct professor, and began to dissect a body. Moreover, he reveled in publicity and notoriety. Like some serial killers, he may have been following closely the publicity related to his disappearance, and could not resist thumbing his nose at society and law enforcement, by making his presence known locally. Perhaps he thought that Joe had suffered enough and orchestrated his appearances to clear him, but did not want to go so far as to turn himself in and face the criminal charges that he had absconded on — not to mention the additional charges that were in the works with the FBI, IRS, and the penalties for becoming a fugitive.
It is difficult to say what his motivations were or why he was drawn back to the area. Perhaps he had run out of resources and needed to approach friends and relatives locally.
In any event, both of these witnesses were found to be credible by an actual jury. Speculation about whether they were credible or not by individuals that have neither read their complete testimony nor seen them testify, therefore cannot be taken too seriously.