Date of Birth: June 7,
Fred Robinson and Susan Hill
lived together for a number of years. Beginning in 1984, Susan made
several efforts to leave Robinson, but he always forced her to return.
In February 1987, Susan left
Robinson for a week to visit her father, and stepmother, Sterleen Hill,
in Yuma. After this visit, Susan went to California to live with other
relatives and did not tell Robinson.
On June 8, 1987, Robinson
decided to go to Yuma and bring Susan back. Robinson persuaded his
friends, Washington and Jimmy Mathers to go with him. The men loaded
Robinson's car with weapons and drove to Yuma. Washington was wearing a
Around 11:45 p.m., two men
entered the Hills' home, forced Mr. and Mrs. Hill to lie on their
bedroom floor, and tied them up. A black man wearing a red bandanna held
a gun to Mr. Hill's head, then ransacked the drawers and closet while
the second man stood over the Hills. One of the men shot the Hills with
a 12-gauge shotgun. Mrs. Hill died from her wounds but Mr. Hill survived.
Washington, Robinson, and
Mathers were tried jointly and each received the death penalty. On
appeal the state supreme court reversed Mathers' conviction finding
insufficient evidence to support the jury verdict.
Presiding Judge: H. Stewart Bradshaw
Prosecutor: William V. Gallo
Start of Trial: December 1, 1987
Verdict: December 15, 1987
Sentencing: January 13, 1988
State v. Washington, 165 Ariz. 51, 796 P.2d 853 (1990).
Arizona's Death Row
What follows is a summation of the case as
seen by the State of Arizona at the time of Trial
The story of how Theodore "Teddy" Washington ended
up on Death Row is a complicated one. To
understand him we first have to meet a man called Fred Robinson.
Fred Lawrence Robinson met Susan
Hill in 1972 through a motorcycle club. Eventually she became
his common-law wife and had three children by him. All was most
definately not happy within the relationship, which can best be
described as "stormy". Susan suffered a great deal of mental and
physical abuse at the hands of Robinson and attempted to leave him a
number of times. Robinson always tracked her down, however, and promised
that he would one day deal with her so that she never left him.
In 1986 Susan was staying
with her sister in North Hollywood. Two men entered the house and
tied-up her sister and niece. Susan hid but was forced to come out
when Robinson threatened the others. He said that if Susan did not
return with him he would kill her.
At the time, Robinson was
living in Banning, Southern California, a small town of just 20,000
This was also the time that
Teddy was living in Banning, as well as another man, Jimmy Lee
Mathers, who is another
important player in the events that were to follow. Mathers had
accompanied Robinson on one of his many trips to recover Susan, this
time to Philadelphia, another time when Robinson threatened that "something
would happen" to her if she did not comply to his demands.
A few weeks after this event,
Susan persuaded Robinson that she should be allowed to visit her
father and step-mother in Yuma, Arizona for a week. Amazingly,
considering the history of this violent and volatile relationship,
Robinson agreed. Ralph and Sterleen Hill, and their teenage son
LeSean, were well aware of Robinson and his abusive nature and they
managed to keep Susan in Arizona for almost a month. During this
time Sterleen obtained a peace bond (the equivalent of a Court
Injunction) against Robinson which barred him from entering the
Hills' home. Susan informed Robinson of the order. After a month at
the Hill family house Susan went to California to see her
grandmother: crucially, she did not inform Robinson of her move.
On June 8th 1987 Robinson's
son, Andre, heard Robinson, Mathers and Teddy - who was wearing
a red bandana - discuss a trip to Arizona. Mathers said that he was
going to "take care of some business". Later, with Teddy absent,
Robinson and Mathers were seen putting guns into Robinson's car and
then driving towards Washington's house. The trio were last seen in
Banning at 6:30 that day driving Robinson's tan Chevette out of town.
Just before midnight on the
same day someone knocked on the door of the Hills' Yuma home. When
LeSean answered the door a man appeared and made a grab for him.
LeSean ran away, through the house and, via another external door,
out of the house. Ralph and Sterleen came out of their bedroom to
investigate the noise and heard a deep voice shout "We're narcotics
agents. We want the dope and the money". Ralph could only see
shadows of the people who had just invaded his home, he could not
The Hills were bundled back
into their room and forced to lie face down on the floor, where they
were tied up. The intruders, one wearing a red bandana, then
ransacked the bedroom cupboards and drawers. After this Ralph was
Meanwhile, LeSean had
telephoned the police from a neighbour's house. A few moments later
he noticed a tan Chevette
speeding away from the area. When the police later pulled the car
over they found Robinson driving, along with a shotgun shell-box, a
red bandana and some of Mather's clothing. When the police
eventually entered the Hills' home they found that Ralph and
Sterleen had been shot with a 12-guage shotgun. Although he had
massive injuries and lost an eye, Ralph survived. Sterleen, though,
A shotgun was found near the
scene. Andre Robinson later recognised it as the one he had seen
being put into the back of his father's car earlier that day.
Robinson was arrested that evening.
Mathers was spotted in
Coachella, California, the following day and returned to Arizona,
where he was arrested. Teddy
returned to Banning and was arrested the day after Mathers.
At the trial all three
defendants were found guilty of murder, attempted murder, aggravated
assault, burglary and armed
robbery, during which trial the State contended that Mathers had
fired the shots.
In addition, forensic
analysis showed that the red bandana, supposed to belong to
Washington, contained traces
of Mathers' hair. All were sentenced to death. On appeal, this
judgement was later reversed for Mathers.