Woman resisted arrest but
did not assault officer, jury finds

(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- A jury decided Monday that a Raleigh woman resisted arrest during a 1999 traffic stop, but jurors concluded she didn't assault a police officer in the scuffle that left her with a broken knee.

Marena Robinson faces a probationary sentence based on her criminal record and the misdemeanor charges, defense lawyer Bob Hensley said. She is to be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. today by Superior Court Judge Ron Stephens.

The jurors found Robinson guilty of resisting arrest, failing to heed a blue light and siren and failing to produce a driver's license and responsible for speeding. They found her not guilty of the assault charge and rejected finding her guilty of the lesser charge of simple assault.

Jurors contacted Monday night declined to comment about their deliberations, which took nearly six hours. They were the second jury to hear the case against Robinson. An earlier jury deadlocked in March on the charges, and a judge declared a mistrial.

Hensley, a Raleigh legislator, said he was pleased with the not guilty verdict on the assault charge but had hoped the jury also would find her not guilty of resisting, obstructing or delaying arrest. He said it is almost impossible to prove someone didn't delay an officer, even if all the person did was ask why she was being stopped, as he says Robinson did.

The verdicts end a contentious battle. Last week, before the second trial, Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita charged that Hensley tried to inflame jurors during the first trial by using terms such as "excessive force," "police brutality" and "racial profiling." A judge denied her request to prevent Hensley from using those phrases this time around.

All along, Hensley has depicted his client as a victim of racial profiling and said she was stopped only because she was a young black woman driving an expensive car, a 1996 Infiniti.

Hensley has even compared the case to the highly publicized killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who was shot 41 times by New York City police in 1999.

Shekita and Hensley presented vastly different accounts of what happened the morning of Jan. 6, 1999, when police stopped the 28-year-old woman on her way to work in Fuquay-Varina.

Police say Robinson was pulled over for going 60 mph in a 45-mph zone along a 2-mile stretch of South Saunders Street.

Police say Robinson was belligerent, swore at the officer and refused to show her driver's license or get out of the car.

Shekita said Robinson's actions compelled police to forcefully remove her from the car, slamming her face-first into the pavement and breaking her knee in the fall to the ground.

Robinson denies swearing and testified that she only questioned the officer about pulling her over. She says she was too fearful to get out of the car or show her license because one officer approached the passenger side with his gun drawn. Hensley says police overreacted and misread Robinson's actions.

Verdicts Split In Police Scuffle
Andrea Weigl, Staff Writer
December 5, 2000 Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
Copyright 2000 The News And Observer
The News And Observer (Raleigh, NC)
December 5, 2000 Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
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