Three felony charges — second-degree assault, vehicle theft, DUI — resulted in 10 years and 30 days of jail time for Nathan Robinson, a Soldotna man with a long criminal record.
The victim of the assault, wife Tamara Robinson, attended the defendant’s sentencing Wednesday at the Kenai Courthouse. It was the couple’s fourth anniversary.
“It feels strange, but it’s a fitting day to put closure to it all,” she said.
The court handed down its sentence after more than a year of court hearings. The prosecution detailed the 46-year-old Soldotna resident’s current offenses, as well as briefly touched on his criminal record. The defense did not argue at length about the evidence against Nathan Robinson. Instead, it simply disagreed and argued a history of substance abuse as the root of their client’s problems.
Nathan Robinson’s many charges were reduced significantly following an Aug. 8 change of plea hearing. The court levied a longer sentence for the remaining charges due to past offenses for which he was still on probation.
Court records show offenses dating back two decades.
His original charges included second-degree assault, three counts of third-degree assault, four counts of fourth-degree assault, interfering with a domestic violence report, kidnapping, two counts of failure to stop at the direction of a peace officer, first-degree vehicle theft, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and DUI, according to court records.
Assistant District Attorney Amy Fenske began Wednesday’s sentencing by recounting two nights in Oct. 2011.
Alaska State Troopers reported Robinson stole a vehicle from ACE Automotive in Soldotna on Oct. 4, 2011. The next morning, the car dealership’s owner told troopers a vehicle scheduled for maintenance was missing from his lot.
Troopers contacted the owner who also reported his Chevy Suburban stolen.
Nathan Robinson led troopers on a high-speed chase down Mackey Lake Road hours earlier. The vehicle turned left onto Rainbow Drive and traveled about one mile before losing control and crashing into the tree line. He fled on foot but was found ten minutes later hiding behind trees.
On the day of his arrest, Tamara Robinson contacted troopers and reported her husband had assaulted her on Oct. 2 and 4, 2011.
She reported Nathan Robinson would drink then become violent. She was choked and threatened with a knife on Oct. 2, according to court records.
Two days later, the couple was visiting family when Nathan Robinson misinterpreted a text Tamara Robinson sent to her sister. She was forced into a truck after being thrown to the ground — the basis of the dismissed kidnapping charge.
Heading back toward Soldotna, Nathan Robinson turned onto Mackey Lake Road and told his wife he was going to kill her.
Tamara Robinson managed to flee the truck. She hid in the crawl space of a nearby residence that night.
While hiding, Tamara Robinson heard sirens. Those off-in-the-distance sirens were troopers chasing the stolen Chevy Suburban, Fenske said during the sentencing.
“He returned to the scene (of the assault) in a different vehicle and clothes,” Fenske said.
It remains unclear where Nathan Robinson got the new clothes, she said.
The troopers made the connection between the woman who hid in a basement and the car chase on Oct. 5, 2011.
After alluding to Nathan Robinson’s criminal history, Fenske said her office considered the impact on the victim.
“We try to make them whole … but we often don’t come close,” Fenske said.
Tamara Robinson said she was comfortable with the parties’ decision. Nathan Robinson was a good man, but his drinking led to larger problems, she said.
If Nathan Robinson was not addicted to alcohol, things would have turned out differently, she said.
“After he does his time … I hope he can stay away from alcohol,” she said.
To women who find themselves in similar situations of abuse, she offered this advice:
“Leave after the first incident and move on.”
She said she was glad to do the same outside the courtroom after the sentencing.
Imposing 100 years of jail time would not make the victim whole, argued public defender William Taylor. His client’s substance abuse problems need to be addressed, he said.
Nathan Robinson spoke briefly before the court. He apologized to his wife, who is currently in the process of filing for divorce, and to the court for his criminal behavior.
“I have an alcohol problem, and when I drink I do things I shouldn’t,” he said. “I apologize for everything that’s happened.”
He said a short stint with bath salts — synthetic drugs that mimic other illegal substances, like cocaine and methamphetamine — led to his most recent drinking problems.
Superior Court Judge Anna Moran did not accept that excuse. She said his history should have taught him otherwise. She added no consumption of synthetic drugs to the defendant’s conditions of probation.
Nathan Robinson will be on probation for five years following his release. His conditions include enrolling in domestic violence and substance abuse classes while in prison.
If he violates his conditions of probation, he could serve another seven years in prison.
Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.