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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Court rejects appeal in 1998 hate killings in Tampa

A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of a man who killed two Tampa homeless men in 1998 to further his standing in a white supremacist group, Acting U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III announced today.

Although authorities were unable at the time to identify who bludgeoned Alfred Williams and Richard Arseneau to death with a tire iron or a similar instrument, Bentley said, evidence uncovered in 2005 revealed that James L. Robertson and three others beat the two men and left them for dead.

The three other participants in the assaults pleaded guilty to related charges and testified at Robertson’s trial that he was the primary instigator of the attacks and that the killings were linked to his membership in a white-supremacist hate group known as “Blood and Honor.”

During his appeal, Robertson argued the district court had erred by refusing to permit him to strike one of only three African-American members from the jury pool, that his prosecution should have been barred by an alleged immunity agreement with the United States, and that the government had failed to present sufficient evidence of his participation in the murders or of the connection with his membership in Blood and Honor.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected each of the arguments.

Robertson is serving a life sentence.

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