Fort White man charged in area slaying
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 10:39 p.m.
A Fort White man was arrested Tuesday and charged with spending his 26th birthday murdering another man over a drug deal.
Eric Michael Roberts, was arrested after turning himself in to Columbia County deputies for the Oct. 27 shooting death of Gary L. Robinson, 29, who also lived in the Fort White area.
On Oct. 29, Robinson's girlfriend reported him missing along with his pickup truck. A few hours later, Robinson's body was found inside his truck, which had apparently been pushed into a water-filled rock quarry off County Road 18 and Hawthorne Road.
An autopsy showed Robinson had been killed with a single shotgun blast to his torso from less than 3 feet away, officials said. The autopsy also revealed that there had been blunt trauma to Robinson's head.
Working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and 3rd Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office, sheriff's investigators determined that Roberts was the last person to see Robinson alive and that in the week before Robinson's death, the two men had conducted at least two drug deals.
According to court records and a published statement by the Sheriff's Office, Roberts was first questioned in the case on Nov. 9 and denied knowing anything about the murder or the quarry where Robinson's body was found, which is about eight miles from Roberts' camper trailer. Instead, Roberts told deputies that Robinson came to the camper where Roberts was living and the two men smoked marijuana together before Robinson left.
Roberts was questioned a second time on Jan. 12, the same day that a search warrant was executed at the camper where Roberts had been living at the time of Robinson's death.
On Tuesday, accompanied by his mother, Roberts turned himself in at the Sheriff's Office. Investigators said he gave a detailed statement about the case, including a motive - that he shot Robinson when Robinson threatened him over allegedly unpaid drug money. Investigators also said Roberts acknowledged that he knew about the quarry because it was a quarter-mile from the home where he grew up.
In a prepared statement issued by the Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Bill Gootee said the case was solved because investigators assigned to the case used "diligence and aggressive investigation of every lead."
Roberts was being held at the county jail without bond Tuesday evening.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or email@example.com.
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