Tempe Municipal Court Judge Thomas Robinson at his initial court appearance following his arrest Sept. 22, 2017, on suspicion of domestic violence and tampering with evidence. Maricopa County Superior Court
Chandler police have opened an internal investigation after nearly a month passed before officers arrested a Tempe judge in his wife’s stabbing, and the case was twice closed.
The scope of the internal investigation has not been made public.
Tempe Judge Thomas Robinson was arrested on Sept. 22 on suspicion of stabbing his wife 10 times and disposing of the evidence.
Thestabbing happened nearly a month earlier, on Aug. 25. Robinson and his wife initially told police that a home intruder had stabbed her. The couple said they didn’t want to pursue an investigation, and the case was closed. When the wife contacted police on Sept. 19 and said it was her husband who had stabbed her, police again closed the case, citing a lack of evidence.
A call byRobinson’s wife to a crisis helpline prompted police to reopen the investigation and arrest the judge.
Robinson has worked in Tempe courts since 1995, initially as a civil traffic hearing officer and then a court commissioner before becoming a municipal court judge in 2009.
Tempe officials placed Robinson on paid administrative after his arrest, but he then filed for retirement, which is effective Thursday.
The arrest was reported to the Commission on Judicial Conduct on Saturday.
Defense attorney Diego Rodriguez, who previously worked as a prosecutor in Pima County and ran for Maricopa County Attorney in 2016, said the case was uncommon.
“You don’t normally see this happen,” he said.
When police initially met with the Robinsons at a hospital where the wife was treated for the stab wounds, police believed there was a violent offender who stabbed the woman and was on the loose, so closing the case “(didn’t) make sense,” Rodriguez said.
The law firm representing Robinson said they don’t intend to try the case in the news media.
“What has happened is obviously a deeply personal issue and one which has been embarrassing, personally and professionally for the Judge and his family,” the statement from Cronus Law reads.
Case twice closed
The Aug. 25 police report details that Robinson and his wife did not seek medical treatment for her stab wounds until nearly seven hours later.Most of the wounds required stitches, although she was released the same day, according to report.
Police went to the hospital and interviewed Robinson first. He told police that he left the house around 6 a.m. to walk the dogs. When he returned he saw couch cushions shredded and claimed to have found his wife face-down on the bed, covered in blood.
Robinson told police they didn’t call police or paramedics because his wife did not want to. When the officer asked why she wouldn’t want to, Robinson replied with a smile saying “That’s just my (redacted).”
He went on to tell police he believed his wife was being stalked and that he had once chased someone away from a nearby alley.
One officer interviewed Robinson and another interviewed his wife, whose story was similar, according to the report.
Police were going to send the case to the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau but a detective told the officer that the bureau would not take up the case, according to the report on the Aug. 25 incident.
The officer asked if the couple wanted police to investigate and they declined. The case was closed two days later.
Three weeks later, on Sept. 19, Robinson’s wife called the police to report a domestic-violence dispute, Chandler Sgt. Seth Tyler said.
Robinson’s wife told police that she and her husband had a heated argument and he left the house after making suicidal threats, according to the police report.
Police found Robinson, who told them he left to avoid the argument becoming violent. He also told police his wife suffered from a mental illness and hadn’t been taking her medication. An officer said she exhibited symptoms, according to the report.
Robinson’s wife told police that her husband was the one who stabbed her on Aug. 25 and demanded his arrest. When the officer informed her that Robinson would be returning to the home, she said if police were not going to arrest him that she wanted them off the property, the report on the Sept. 19 call says.
Police had Robinson pack a bag to stay somewhere else, which angered Robinson’s wife who would not talk further to police, according to the report.
Shortly after police left, she called 911 because “she was not happy that I let a suicidal man, Thomas, drive away,” the officer noted in his report.
Police closed the investigation due to “no evidence of a crime” and said no new information was found related to the Aug. 25 incident.
The officer in the report notes the wife, “advised me that Thomas has stabbed her multiple times and that Chandler PD and detectives responded to conduct investigations.”
The officer notes two past cases, one of them being the Aug. 25 case, were closed because of a lack of evidence or no prosecution desired.
Robinson’s wife prompted another look into the situation when she called an emergency crisis line on Sept. 21. It’s unclear if this was a city line or an outside service, but she told the crisis worker that she had lied to police in August and her husband was the person who stabbed her.
Call to crisis line leads to action
After the call to a crisis line, police responded. The wife, whom The Arizona Republic is not identifying to protect the victim’s identity, told police that on the morning of Aug. 25, she was looking at her husband’s phone and saw a number she didn’t recognize. She called the number and a woman answered, according to the report.
The two argued over the issue before Robinson left the house. While he was gone, his wife said she damaged items in the house and dumped several of Robinson’s “prized possessions” in the toilet, according to the police report.
Robinson returned and found his wife lying on the bed. She told police he came in with a knife and stabbed her in the face, chest, back and arms as he said he was “going to kill her,” according to the report.
After stabbing her 10 times, she said he stopped and apologized, the report said.
On this visit, officers searched the home and found “two objects with what appeared to be blood spatter on them.” They did not find the knife, according to the report.
Police listened in on a phone call between Robinson and his wife in which he acknowledged stabbing her and said he would “have to live with the memory of doing that” for the rest of his life, the report said.
In a police interview, Robinson said he and his wife had “stonewalled” detectives in August and that he put the bedding and knife in a trash bin behind a business, according to the report.
Robinson also deleted pictures he’d taken of his disheveledhome and purchased a new phone, the report said. Robinson later told police he had someone else destroy the phone but would not say who destroyed it.
Robinson’s wife filed an order of protection against him the day after his arrest. He was released under electronic monitoring and supervision.
Robinson’s next court hearing was scheduled for Oct. 3.
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