CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A 28-year-old woman convicted of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated arson, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, will be 65-years-old when she gets out of prison.
From the Cheatham County Jail Tuesday, Arial Robinson spoke sincerely.
She apologized to the senior citizen she almost killed, and she also had strong words for the Cheatham County judge she thinks excessively sentenced her.
Robinson and her two co-defendants, Chris Duncan and Timothy Shoffner, were sentenced to a combined 277 years in prison for the April 2016 crime where investigators say they beat a senior citizen, duct-taped him, fired shots at him and then set his house on fire with him trapped inside.
The man escaped and the trio was quickly arrested.
Robinson spoke candidly to News 2 about the crime, the trial and her future.
When asked what was going through her mind, she said, “My kids, family. I believe that when [the victim] said we should have a second chance, the judge didn’t give that to us. I have no priors.”
Robinson continued, “Rehab would have helped, or community corrections. I have always been a good citizen for my community. Mistakes happen big mistakes. I feel [the victim] – I hope he has been justified, but [Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash], her calling me cold-hearted is not appropriate, that sentence should not have happened.”
News 2 asked Robinson if given the opportunity what would she say to the victim.
“The same thing I said at sentencing. I hope he has forgiveness in his heart. I’ve been a victim, too. Nothing that happened to him that was too… I think he found justice, but like I said, that second chance he said we should have, we didn’t get it,” she said.
Robinson said she believes the 37-year sentence she received was too much.
“I’ll be 65-years-old if I make it out – if I make it out,” she said. “I am scared for my kids. I have two kids, ages five and three. My son was six months when I left. I could’ve been given a chance to show the judge and the victim that addicts can conquer our problems.”
When asked if the crime was because of drugs, Robinson said. “I believe things happened cause of drugs.”
“People make mistakes,” she added. “I don’t think you should get a life sentence making up for that. It is not just me that suffers, it’s my kids, and his family all around us.”
Robinson admitted that duct taping the victim, setting his house on fire and leaving him there was “horrific.”
“I can’t imagine,” she said.
The young mother said since being jailed, everything has changed.
“Everything has changed – My mentality, my spiritualness. I mean, everyone finds God, of course. I was spiritual before, but I’m more in faith now. I tend to be the person everyone goes to for help. A better understanding in life, and how much things matter to you, everything – not just your family, but things you can do to help others in the community in life period,” she said, adding, “I’m going to come out better than before. I have nothing but change to do.”
Robinson couldn’t give a reason on why she was involved in the crime, saying, “I can’t tell you. Sometimes things happen. You have bad influences around you. Sometimes you fear for things and have no choice.”
The victim, who was 67-years-old at the time, was emotionally fragile for years family members said.
“He is doing much better. For a while, he was jumpy, he didn’t sleep well and he was depressed. He was wondering how to restart his life, how to rebuild. Since then, he has found a new lease on life, he has remarried to a wonderful lady and rebuilt the house,” the victim’s niece Kristine Sproat said.
Sproat recalled what that night was like.
“We were asleep in bed. I heard a pounding on the door, and I came out of my room and he is there. He has no shoes, no shirt, and there’s duct tape on him. And he said, ‘They tried to kill me and the house is on fire,’” she recalled.
Sproat continued, “He told me they tried to shoot him, and he thought he would burn in the house. It’s a miracle he got out.”
She told News 2 her uncle is relieved the suspects received a combined 277 years in jail.
“He is relieved that in their lifetime they won’t be out. There was a fear they’d get out and retaliate, and he was in constant fear of that. So, he was glad in his lifetime they won’t be out,” she said. “I think justice was served. Police and DA and first responders did a great job, and unfortunately, we make choices and we have to live with them, but yes, they got what they deserve.”