Teen sentenced in 1998 in murder of her mother released from prison
Family friends feel conflicted
10:28 PM, Dec 5, 2013
1:28 PM, Dec 6, 2013
CARROLLWOOD, Fla. - A Tampa Bay woman who helped kill her mother at the age of 15 walked out of prison a free woman early Friday.
Valessa Robinson was released From Homestead Correctional Institution around 1 a.m.
It's one of the area's most notorious murders. In 1998, a Carrollwood mother named Vicki Robinson was brutally killed - injected with bleach, stabbed, and stuffed into a trash can. Three people were convicted, including Robinson's own daughter, Valessa.
Robinson's friends can't help but feel conflicted over the news. It's been 15 years since they last saw their friend alive.
"It's been hard, real hard. This week has just been a very intense time of remembrance and pain," said Ed Philips.
"I'm a little disappointed, maybe disheartened," said one of Vicki Robinson's best friends, Deb Sartor-Englert.
Bonnie Smith says she was one of the last people to see Robinson alive. Her life hasn't been the same since.
"In all honesty I feel like she should spend the rest of her life behind bars," Smith said of Valessa. "I actually feel sorry for her because she lost the best friend she'll ever have."
Robinson's friends say they aren't angry, but disappointed in the justice system. They believe Valessa should have been convicted of first degree murder, not third degree. They told ABC Action News they think she was the real ringleader.
"Even though she's being released from prison, she'll never be released from what she has done," Sartor-Englert said.
With old photos and memories now all that's left, they are each struggling to look ahead. They say they're aware of what their friend would have wanted, though, and that's a second chance for her daughter. Valessa is now 30 years old.
"Vicky loved her daughter. She was a good mother, a dear friend, and she would want what's best for her daughter," said Philips.
According to the Department of Corrections, Robinson will relocate to a home in Mississippi.