To humanize her client, Gambale put him on the witness stand. In soft, nervous, almost-shy tones, the 6-foot-1, 260-pound defendant explained why he wore only black clothes (he felt slimmer), what attracted him to Gothic music (Marilyn Manson), why he loved true-crime books (a “fascination with the criminal mind”), why he chose the screen name psychokiller666 (“I thought it was cool”), what made a good movie (one that kept him “on the edge of his seat”) and why he wrote shocking online messages (“I was drunk”).

“I was pretty depressed at the way my life was,” Robinson testified.

On the day of his crimes, he said, his use of psilocybin-loaded mushrooms allowed him to hear people’s (negative) thoughts as he wandered the Brea Mall in the afternoon. Later, he watched the Academy Awards’ red-carpet festivities on a television inside his family’s garage and believed he had direct communications with the stars. “They were laughing at my thoughts,” he recalled. “I was tripping quite a bit.”

Afterward, Robinson decided to see a zombie movie. He brought with him a bottle of whiskey, a clear plastic bag holding cookies and mushrooms, a knife and hammer, and, go figure, a single Lifestyles condom. The theater manager, Wiley Drake—son of the famous Buena Park minister—refunded Robinson’s ticket after finding the alcohol and refusing him admittance, but he sneaked back into Auditorium 17, the one playing The Signal.

Robinson told jurors he had a “vague” memory of the movie starting because of the intensity of his mushroom trip: He could “see sounds” and “hear colors.” He recalled seeing “so much violence” onscreen. He said he heard voices and laughter “mocking” him.

“I felt like something was coming through the screen—something evil,” said Robinson. “I felt scared, paranoid. I recall screams—a lot of screams. The next thing I remember is I’m driving. I was trying to figure out where I was and what happened. I noticed my condition. I had a bit of blood on my hand and knife. I got, like, a sickening feeling, like dread.”

The following day, he testified, he saw news reports of the theater attack that left two men seriously wounded—one stabbed in the head, arm, knee and chest. He said he felt “terrible” and fled to Las Vegas. Two weeks later, police captured him. Inside his Cadillac, they found a combination knife-and-hammer tool.

Katz called Robinson’s story “ridiculous” and based on “a convenient memory loss.” To illustrate his point, he orchestrated a devastating series of questions to three witnesses who conversed with Robinson minutes before the attacks: Was his speech slurred? Were his answers incoherent? Did he sway, stumble or fall? Did you have any idea he was hallucinating? All three witnesses said “no” to each question.

“Except for his own statement, there is no evidence that he had a hallucination,” the prosecutor said. “He wanted to kill people. It’s that simple.”

On Sept. 29, it took less than six hours for a jury to agree. They found Robinson guilty of two counts of attempted murder and two counts of mayhem. At his Dec. 11 sentencing, he could get life in prison.

rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com

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