Lynchburg convicted killer taken off death row - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Lynchburg Man Taken Off Death Row

Lynchburg convicted killer taken off death row

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Leon Winston's mugshot, Dec. 2010 Leon Winston's mugshot, Dec. 2010

6:20 p.m.

By Scott Leamon

Lynchburg commonwealth's attorney Mike Doucette, one of the prosecutors who tried the case back in 2003, said it was Rhonda Robinson's daughters who factored into his decision to allow Winston to serve life in prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court offered Doucette the option in its ruling of redoing the penalty phase of Leon Winston's trial, meaning the court was okay with allowing the convictions to stand, but not the penalty portion of the trial.

If Doucette decided he wanted to pursue the death penalty once again, he would have had to call witnesses, present evidence, and ask a judge to keep Winston on death row.

Winston would have also, of course, been allowed a vigorous defense.

Doucette said Rhonda Robinson's daughters, now well into their teens, told him they were okay with Winston serving life in prison.

He said that effectively sealed his decision to take the possibility of the death penalty off the table for Winston.

Winston will still have to appear in Lynchburg Circuit Court sometime in the future to allow for the formal sentencing of three life terms.

Doucette said he did not yet know when that court appearance will be.

12:16 p.m.

From Scott Leamon, WSLS reporter in the field

A United States Supreme Court ruling has effectively taken a Lynchburg man off death row.

Leon Winston was convicted of three counts of capital murder back in 2003.

Winston gunned down Anthony and Rhonda Robinson inside their Lynchburg home in 2002.

Rhonda Robinson was pregnant at the time.

Her daughters, ages 8 and 4 at the time, watched their mother die.

The Supreme Court ruled Winston's attorneys should have included a mental retardation defense during the penalty phase of his trial.

Winston will be resentenced to three life terms later this year.

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