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Missouri man wrongfully convicted in 2001 murder case still awaits release

Wrongfully convicted Mo. man awaits release
Missouri man wrongfully convicted of murder still awaiting release 05:33

A Missouri man hopes to walk out of prison today after serving nearly two decades for a murder he did not commit, in a case one judge called "manifest injustice." David Robinson was kept behind bars, even though another man confessed to the crime in 2004.

Robinson isn't the only one who says he's innocent; in February, a state judge agreed with him, and two weeks ago, the Missouri Supreme Court ordered his release.

And yet, Robinson remains in prison.

"Been a living nightmare. It's been an up-and-down rollercoaster," Robinson told "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty.

David Robinson has been kept behind bars, even though another man confessed to the crime 14 years ago, and the Missouri State Supreme Court has ordered his release. CBS News

In 2001, Robinson was convicted of the murder of Sheila Box, a 36-year-old mother. She was found in her car a year earlier in Sikeston, Missouri, dead of a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Box's daughter, Crystal King, was 17 when she lost her mom. "I was in disbelief," she told Moriarty. "It changed my world forever. I have memories of dancing with her in the living room. She was extremely beautiful, loving, and caring."

Police believed Robinson, who had a history of drug crimes, shot Box during a drug deal. 

"That bothered me more than anything, to be wrongfully accused of killing a woman," Robinson said.

But there was little to tie Robinson to the murder: No physical evidence, just one eyewitness, Albert Baker, a paid police informant who claimed he saw Robinson shoot Box at a busy intersection.

Filmmaker Steve Turner, who is working on a documentary about the case, said, "There were no three or four eyewitnesses who saw him shoot her; there was just one guy who had a crazy story, and bam, he's gone."

There was also an inmate who claimed that Robinson confessed to him when they shared a cell. It turns out, according to Robinson's attorney Charlie Weiss, "He was never in the same cell as David Robinson, and the prosecution put him on the stand even though they knew he had never shared the same cell."

Robinson was sentenced to life without parole.

But three years later, the case against him fell apart. Another man confessed on tape to a defense investigator that he was the one who sold drugs to Sheila Box, and killed her. In a recording made on August 9, 2004, Romanze Mosby said, "I told her to throw the money, throw the money out and I'm gonna throw her the dope."

Mosby said he panicked when he saw she had a gun: "And that's when I just shot her, because I'd seen a little flash. I was walking up to it and she just raised her arm and that's when I shot her."

In 2009, Mosby took his own life – and Robinson remained in prison, even though, by then, both witnesses who testified against him admitted they had lied.

"I gave false testimony against David Robinson," said Albert Baker, the paid informant. He had been given $2,500 in cash and expenses after he agreed to testify.

And still, Robinson remained in prison, as appeal after appeal was denied.

Until last February, when Judge Darrell Missey ruled the evidence clearly shows that David Robinson did not kill Sheila Box. The conviction, he said, should be overturned because the lead detective John Blakely used "unreliable evidence" to convict Robinson and "ignored or suppressed facts"  which pointed away from him.

Moriarty asked Robinson, "You're still sitting here. How do you explain that to your family?"

"I can't," he replied. "I mean, I get asked that question every day by staff, by other offenders. But it hurt every time they ask me."

Even the daughter still grieving a mother wonders why Robinson hasn't been released. 

"I believe in my heart that he is innocent and I stand by him," said Crystal King. "I lend my support to him and that's how it should be."

The State of Missouri has until the end of May to either retry Robinson, or free him.

Moriarty asked Robinson, "What do you want to do when you get out? What's the first thing you want to do?"

His reply: "Hug my mother."

The Missouri Attorney General is scheduled to make an announcement later today. It's not known for sure that Robinson will be released, but the lead detective resigned last week. And with no evidence remaining, it's likely Robinson will be allowed to finally go home to hug his mom.

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