Danville double-murder trial Day 3 | Case puts focus on alleged use of car

 

Listen to this article

DANVILLE — A former Danville man testified Tuesday that on Aug. 1, 2015, Glen Torres paid him $200 to drive him around to look for two men he had been hired to gun down in revenge for a robbery and nonfatal shooting that occurred the previous day.

Marquis Robinson also testified that late that night and into the next morning, he was driving Torres; Theodore "Teddy" Hill, one of the men Torres was looking for; and Zarra Strickland, Mr. Hill's girlfriend, to Torres' car.

As he was heading north on Logan Avenue and approaching the stop sign at Kimber Street, "that's when the defendant shot Teddy," Robinson said.

"He shot him in the head," he continued, adding he heard a "slight scream" from Ms. Strickland and saw blood pouring from Mr. Hill's head.

Robinson said Torres ordered him at gunpoint to drive to a location west of Danville, where he dumped the couple's bodies, and then on to his home on the east side of Indianapolis, where he tried cleaning the car a couple of times and tried to lay low.

The testimony came on the first full day of Torres' murder trial for the Aug. 2, 2015, shooting deaths of Mr. Hill, 29, and Ms. Strickland, 28.

If convicted, the 30-year-old former Danville man could face 60 years to life in prison under special penalty provisions.

'Low level' dealer testifies

Under questioning by special prosecutor Johnathan McKay — who is trying the case along with Kathleen Duhig and Mary Claire Nicholson, of the Illinois Attorney General's Office — Robinson told the jury of eight women and four men and one female alternate he was testifying as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Under the agreement, he would testify at Torres' trial, and in exchange, prosecutors wouldn't charge him with murder unless it was discovered that he lied about his involvement in the murders. Instead, he would be able to plead guilty to concealment of a homicide and be sentenced to eight years in prison.

Robinson, who has lived in Alabama for the last three years, went on to testify he used to be a "low level" drug dealer in Danville, who bought crack cocaine from a dealer named Joshua "J" Robinson and sold it on the street.

Marquis Robinson testified that on Aug. 1, 2015, he drove his girlfriend J'Lynn Ayer's blue Chevy Malibu to a house on South Street to meet up with Joshua Robinson to buy some drugs. While there, his dealer told him he had been robbed and shot in the leg the day before by Terlandon Givens.

"He wanted to get the guys back who shot him," Robinson said, meaning Givens and his associate, Mr. Hill.

Robinson said that while they were talking, along with a group of Joshua Robinson's associates, Givens drove by them, which stirred the men up. Then Marquis Robinson, who offered unauthorized taxi services, left because he had gotten a call from Mr. Hill, asking for a ride to the bowling alley. When he met Mr. Hill at his apartment, he said Joshua Robinson, along with others, pulled up in his SUV, the dealer pulled out a gun and as he and Mr. Hill ran off, he heard shots fired.

'I wanted the money'

After he and Ayers took Mr. Hill to the bowling alley, Robinson said they went to Culver's. While there, he got several calls from Mr. Hill for rides, but he lied and told him he was out of town because he didn't want to get involved in his beef with Joshua Robinson.

Robinson said he took Ayers to her mother's home, then returned to his apartment where he saw Torres being dropped off by someone he assumed was his wife in a red Grand Am. He said Torres had a bottle of Hennessy, and the two talked about Joshua Robinson getting shot.

Robinson said Torres wanted to talk to Joshua Robinson, so he agreed to drive him to Kimball Street. He said he bought more drugs from Joshua Robinson, then the dealer and Torres began talking and walked around the corner of the house, while he talked to one of his associates, Terrence Duckworth.

After he and Torres left, Robinson said Torres said he was offered $5,000 — $500 upfront — to take out Givens and Mr. Hill. He said Torres offered to pay him $200 to drive him around to look for them.

When McKay asked Robinson why he agreed to his offer, Robinson said: "I wanted the money, I guess."

Robinson described a few more events that evening involving Torres and Mr. Hill, but said they all end up at the home of Ms. Strickland, who was also his cousin. While there, Robinson said Mr. Hill, who was doing lines of cocaine, talked to Torres about wanting to rob Joshua Robinson and kidnap and ransom his children.

He said Mr. Hill had a handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle next to him and forced him to try some cocaine by pointing the handgun at him and cocking it. He said Ms. Strickland "was cutting up socks to use as gloves."

'Cover up for myself'

Robinson said he "really didn't care" about their plan, he just didn't want to be part of it. Later when the three men saw Joshua Robinson at a gas station while on a liquor store run, he said he talked them out of doing anything then.

Marquis Robinson said that's when Torres said they could use his car as the getaway car, and Mr. Hill called Ms. Strickland to be their driver. Robinson said he was driving the three to Torres' car when Torres, who was sitting behind him, shot the couple and forced him at gunpoint to drive west of Danville.

After Torres dragged both bodies from the car and placed them near a tree line, Robinson said Torres, pointing the AK-47 that Mr. Hill asked Ms. Strickland to bring, made him get out of the car and shoot them with the handgun.

"He told me I had to get my hands in it," he said, recalling that he turned his head and shot twice, not knowing if he struck them or not.

Robinson said Torres made him drive him to his home in east Indianapolis, where he tried to clean the car — which, he noticed, had two shattered windows from the gunshots — with a hose in his driveway, then power wash it at a car wash. Later, Robinson said, he drove the car back to Danville, where Torres had his uncle, Dave Mott, detail the car twice.

In her opening statement, Duhig said prosecutors would present evidence that Torres tried to sell the car on Craigslist, and that one of Torres' fingerprints was found in the car.

Under questioning by McKay, Robinson said he lied or omitted details that he later told police during his initial interviews with them because he "was trying to keep myself in the clear" and "cover up for myself."

Reporter

Noelle McGee is a Danville-based reporter at The News-Gazette. Her email is nmcgee@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@n_mcgee).