By Matt Ward
Jurors found Daniel Robbins guilty of second degree murder Tuesday evening in connection with the Aug. 18, 2011 shooting death of Chris Mundy, a 21-year-old man who was dating one of Robbins’ daughters at the time.
The jury also convicted Robbins of three other serious felony charges. He is expected to get as much as life in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 11.
Jurors were escorted out of the courthouse by police after the verdict was read.
Robbins’ family members, who attended court each day wearing purple and yellow in support of the defendant, were shaken by the jury’s unanimous decision. Mundy’s family was jubilant after the verdict was read.
Robbins escaped the most serious charge, first degree murder, which Deputy District Attorney Tierra Jones had argued in her closing summation was what Robbins deserved.
Still, Robbins will likely face a minimum of 10 years in prison just for the murder charge. Add an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon and sentences on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and battery with a deadly weapon and sources say he could get as much as 24 years to life.
Robbins was visibly stunned when the verdict was read, looking to his wife, Kathie, from the defense table.
Robbins has been incarcerated since the ordeal started. It unfolded when Mundy showed up at Robbins’ home after a heated Facebook exchange with the defendant and his wife earlier in the evening of Aug. 17, 2011. Robbins confronted Mundy in the driveway of his Benson Circle home, firing one shot into the bumper of the vehicle Mundy was driving before walking up to the driver side window, sticking the gun against Mundy’s neck and pulling the trigger.
Robbins’ defense attorneys contended the shooting was accidental. They told jurors throughout the trial that Robbins was within his rights to defend himself and his property against Mundy, who was repeatedly referred to as an intruder and trespasser during defense closing arguments Tuesday morning.
The murder charge and one assault charge against Robbins stemmed from shooting Mundy. The other assault charge and battery charge stemmed from an injury sustained by a juvenile passenger in the car Mundy was in at the time of the shooting. Pablo Flores, 15, was struck in the arm by the bullet that passed through Mundy’s neck.
Jones argued forcefully for a conviction on all charges during her closing arguments, but especially asked for a guilty verdict on first degree murder. She argued in her summation that Robbins met the criteria for first degree murder, which includes any “willful, deliberate and premeditated” act that leads to the death of another person.
“Daniel Robbins wanted Chris Mundy dead and he knew he was going to kill him,” Jones told the jury.
She said numerous pieces of evidence pointed to Robbins’ guilt of the most serious charge, including initiating a salty Facebook exchange with Mundy, who had previously only been in contact with Robbins’ wife. Also, Robbins told Mundy to “bring it” when the victim said he would come over to the Robbins home. Moreover, she said, Robbins, who the day before called the police on his own daughter, Mundy’s girlfriend Jennifer, didn’t call the police on Mundy.
Instead, he grabbed a loaded pistol, took the safety off and confronted the victim.
“He said ‘bring it.’ You decide whether that says stay away from my house. He said ‘bring it.’ And he Robbins told you that shortly after that a car drives up in his driveway, his wife runs outside, screaming ‘he’s here, he’s here’ and the defendant told you that he knew Chris Mundy was in his driveway. He knew that. . . . When the defendant is made aware that Chris Mundy is in his driveway, what does he do? He told you. He got up. He got dressed. He put his pants on, he put his shoes on. He got his gun out of the night stand. . . . he knows it’s loaded, and he’s headed outside to face Chris Mundy. What does he tell you he does on his way? He releases the safety on that gun,” Jones told the jurors.
Robbins took the stand last week in his own defense and told the jury he merely wanted to scare Mundy with the gun. Jones told jurors not to believe that. She said they should instead use their common sense and see that by taking the safety off his weapon, Robbins had demonstrated premeditation as well as other elements of first degree murder.
“Could you scare somebody with a gun with the safety on? Could you scare somebody with an unloaded gun? You can. But you can’t kill somebody with an unloaded gun. You can’t kill somebody with a gun while the safety’s on,” she said. “Because the defendant intended to kill Chris, he made sure he did everything to get that gun ready so that when he walked out that courtyard he could start shooting.”
Jones also pointed out to jurors that deputies who took the stand during the trial all testified to how calm Robbins was the night of the shooting, unlike someone who’d just been involved in an accident.
“Kathie was hysterical. You hear it on the 911 call. Kathie’s hysterical, she hasn’t shot anybody. What is the defendant doing? Every responding deputy told you he’s calm, just walking around outside the house. You just killed a kid and you’re just walking around outside your house. He intended to kill Chris and his mission had been accomplished,” she said to the jury.
During her closing, Jones flashed two photos from the scene of the shooting, one of which was a close-up of the entry wound to Mundy’s neck — gun powder burns indicated how close the weapon was to Mundy’s skin when it was fired. The second photo was more grisly. It showed Mundy slumped over in the driver’s seat of the car he was in, blood streaming down his face and neck.
Las Vegas attorney Dan Winder made closing arguments for the defense.
He said the prosecution’s characterization of the evidence was distorted. Winder told the jury that Robbins was simply defending his castle as he has every right to do, that Mundy ignored repeated warnings to stay away from the home, and then unbelievably decided to show up at the house at 1:30 in the morning, though he’d never even met the Robbins before that night.
Winder said that Mundy was trespassing on the Robbins property in the darkness of night and his ultimate intentions were unknown. He never turned off his car and he never got out, and when he refused to leave after at least three or four more verbal warnings, Robbins had no choice but to point the gun right at Mundy. Tragically, the gun accidentally fired, he said.
“He comes over to the side. He’s still yelling, get off my property. He comes to the driver’s window. Now he can see it’s a young man. But he doesn’t know, he still can’t see his hand. He doesn’t know what they’re doing, he doesn’t even see Pablo in the passenger seat. . . . He put the gun in. His intent was to scare; he was frightened himself; he was in fear, concerned and upset. And there’s Pablo who told you what happened next,” Winder said, before playing a clip of Flores’ testimony from the trial, which indicated that Robbins was in mid-sentence, another verbal warning, when the gun he was holding against Mundy’s neck discharged.
Winder told the jury that the state didn’t prove its case.
“We can’t bring Chris Mundy back. But that saying, two wrongs don’t make a right, there is insufficient evidence to convict Danny Robbins of any crime,” Winder said.
Wes White, a former Nye County prosecutor, told the Pahrump Valley Times that Robbins had been offered a plea deal for second degree murder without use of a deadly weapon but refused the deal. He said Robbins’ attorneys sought instead a manslaughter plea agreement early in the case, but the district attorney’s office refused.