CROWN POINT — A judge sentenced a Gary man Thursday to 22 years in prison but rejected a plea deal for his sister in a 2015 shooting that left a mother of four dead and wounded her sister.
Marcellus D. Robinson, 25, and Tyiana Robinson, 22, both of Gary, appeared before Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell with defense attorney Scott King for back-to-back sentencing hearings.
Marcellus Robinson pleaded guilty in April to a reduce charge of felony voluntary manslaughter for ambushing Mynisha S. Brown, 25, of Gary, Brown's sister and five other women in November 2015, near the intersection of 19th Avenue and Kentucky Street. Tyiana Robinson pleaded guilty to felony assisting a criminal.
Tyiana Robinson had been feuding with Brown's sister over a man who fathered children with both women.
Tyiana Robinson and Brown's sister agreed to fight before arriving outside the shuttered Dunbar-Pulaski school, Lake County Prosecutor Judith Massa said.
"That is what led to Mr. Robinson being judge, jury and executioner on that dark night," she said.
Brown, a mother of four who would have graduated that year from nursing school, drove her sister to the fight thinking she would be able to offer some protection, family members said.
Tyiana Robinson pulled her car past Mynisha Brown's vehicle, drawing the attention of Brown and her friends away as Marcellus Robinson approached them shooting, Massa said.
He fired at least four shots, striking the Brown sisters, she said. Mynisha Brown died in her sister's arms.
Defense attorney Scott King said Brown's death was a tragedy, but he said Marcellus Robinson acted under intense provocation.
King took issue with Massa's characterization that sock-covered canned goods found in Brown's car were used to break out windows but were not intended as weapons.
Windows at the home of the Robinsons' mother were broken, he said. Police also found a machete that had been brought to the scene in Brown's car.
"They were going to pummel Tyiana Robinson, and God knows what the plan was with the machete," King said.
Marcellus Robinson initially was charged in March 2016 with murder, five counts of attempted murder, battery and four counts of attempted battery.
He eventually pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, because he acted under "sudden heat," King said. Marcellus Robinson had been asked to cover up his mother's broken windows and was angry because he continued to be drawn into his sister's feud.
Marcellus Robinson apologized to Brown's family and said he hoped they would one day be able to forgive him. He said became angry after receiving call after call.
Boswell asked, "But why did you focus your anger on the other side? Why didn't you tell your sister to stop?"
Robinson's family members broke into tears after Boswell pronounced his sentence. A short time later, Tyiana Robinson took a seat at the defense table with King.
She initially was facing the same charges as her brother, but she pleaded guilty in April to a reduced charge of felony assisting a criminal.
Massa said the plea agreement might appear "fantastical" at first glance, but prosecutors were constrained after state's witness Pamela Hunter was killed.
Hunter was shot to death and her 8-year-old daughter was wounded in April 2018 at their home in Gary. No charges have been filed in the homicide.
"Tyiana Robinson got a great benefit for Pamela Hunter's death," Massa said.
King said Tyiana Robinson was to receive credit for more than 1,400 days in jail, which would amount to a sentence of time served in the case. He asked Boswell to consider granting a request for misdemeanor treatment, because Robinson has a 4-year-old child she supports and a felony on her record would affect her earning potential.
When Tyiana Robinson told Boswell she didn't want to make a statement, Boswell questioned her demeanor. King said she was upset because of her brother's sentence.
Boswell refused to accept Tyiana Robinson's plea agreement and set a status hearing for Aug. 8.
"You think you got this wrapped up, but everything is not cool," Boswell said.
Marcellus Robinson's sentence and Brown's death were on Tyiana Robinson, the judge said.
After the hearing, King said Marcellus Robinson was in jail at the time of Hunter's killing and he wasn't aware of any suspicions that they were linked to the homicide.
"My clients had no involvement whatsoever," he said.