Sands Apts. murder trial: Opening arguments expected Tuesday

Defense tries to supress statements

tchitwood@ledger-enqurier.comOctober 28, 2013 

Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of Timothy Leshan Robinson and Dana Michael Kessler, accused of mortally wounding Jeffrey Morgan while trying to rob him April 6, 2012, during a marijuana deal in the parking lot of the Sands Apartments, 1213 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Kessler and Robinson were arrested April 8, 2012. A third suspect, Edward Trevor Love, was arrested this past June 12 in Phenix City, and still is being held on charges in Russell County.

Investigators said Morgan and Robinson had arranged to meet at the apartments, where Morgan arrived in his 2011 Mazda about 2:25 p.m. that Friday. Robinson, Kessler and Love arrived moments later in a Mitsubishi. Two of the three got out and walked over to Morgan's vehicle, where Kessler pulled a gun and tried to rob Morgan, police said.

Kessler fired a shot that went through Morgan's upper right arm and into his chest, and then Kessler dragged Morgan out of the Mazda, investigators said. One suspect drove the Mazda away while the other two left in the Mitsubishi, police said. Morgan’s blue Mazda was found abandoned nearby on Talley Avenue.

On Morgan’s cell phone detectives found a number that led them to Robinson, who admitted being at the apartments to buy drugs, but denied knowing Kessler had planned to rob Morgan, officers said. Kessler told police each suspect knew they were to rob Morgan, investigators said.

Kessler and Robinson each faces charges charges of murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, using a firearm to commit a crime and possessing marijuana.

According to previous court testimony, police found Kessler’s fingerprints and a palm print on Morgan’s car. Assistant District Attorney Sadhana Dailey said Kessler admitted the robbery to police, but claimed he never meant to shoot Morgan. She said Robinson admitted arranging the drug deal where Morgan was shot.

Kessler’s defense attorney, Moffett Flournoy III, said loot the would-be robbers were after consisted of two large “chunks” of marijuana, each weighing more than 30 grams.

Kessler and Robinson both have turned down prosecution plea offers. Defense attorneys said Kessler was offered a sentence of 40 years in prison with 30 to serve, and Robinson was offered 25 years with 15 to serve.

At the time of the crime, Morgan was 25 years old; Robinson was 20; Kessler 25 and Love 19, police said.

Related stories:

Columbus police: Two charged in Friday homicide at Sands Apartments

UPDATE: 2 men charged with murder in Sands Apartments shooting ordered held without bond

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