Editor’s note: This article is part of our series that takes a look back at our area within the last few decades. This article was printed in the June 24, 1999, edition of the Clinton Herald.



CLINTON — A Fulton, Ill., man will spend the rest of his life in prison for being believed to be the individual who shot a LeClaire car dealer in the chest and then in the mouth at his Clinton business.

Robert Robinson, 56, received a life without parole sentence this morning in connection with the April 20, 1998 shooting death of Thomas Tague, 68. In addition, District Court Judge David Sivright ordered Robinson to pay $150,000 to the Tague estate.

“This is what I’ve waited for,” said Tague’s son, Tim. “This has been a hectic year.”

However, Robinson’s wife, Arlene, disagrees with the decision.

“I actually think it’s wrong,” Arlene said. “There wasn’t no real physical evidence.”

It was because of this alleged lack of physical evidence that Robinson’s attorney, Jack Wolfe, asked Sivright to consider a motion for a new trial. Wolfe maintained that the jury did not have adequate evidence to support its May 4 guilty verdict. Wolfe also pointed out that Robinson blames the media for an unfair trial. As a result of the media coverage, Wolfe said Robinson should have been granted a change of venue.

But Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf argued that Wolfe failed to request a change of venue prior to the trial.

Sivright denied the motion for a new trial. Wolfe said an appeal is being filed.

During a week-long trial, Wolf and Iowa Attorney General prosecutor James Kivi, said that Robinson had a financial motive for killing Tague.

After Tague was found dead, Tague’s son reported that his father’s briefcase, carrying an unknown amount of cash, a .38 caliber handgun and documents from the business were taken. Witnesses also claimed that beginning April 20 Robinson began repaying debts.

But Wolfe stressed that no physical evidence linked Robinson to the crime.

Robinson’s son, Gerald, testified that he lent his father a .410 gauge sawed-off shotgun and three-inch shells. While an expert witness determined that Tague was killed with a .410 shotgun he said the gun was loaded with two and a half-inch shells. In addition, Robinson’s fingerprints and footprints could not be detected at the crime scene.

The crime for which Robinson was convicted began to unfold less than a week after Tague was found shot to death.

At that time, Robinson was arrested near Normal, Ill., on a Jackson County warrant for failure to appear on a second-degree burglary charge. The arrest came after Illinois State Police stopped a car carrying Robinson, his wife and step-daughter.

That evening, media reports connected Robinson to a suspicious death in Clinton. Meanwhile, Clinton police and agents for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) traveled to McLean County, Ill., Jail and questioned the three individuals. Those authorities also obtained a search warrant to go through the car and Robinson’s mobile home in the Sikkema Trailer Park in Fulton, Ill.

Robinson was then extradited to Jackson County on April 29, 1998, and although the burglary charge was not filed against him he was charged with possession of a firearm as a felon. That charge was dismissed after the first-degree murder charges were filed in Clinton County Sept. 3, 1998.

Five hours after closing arguments in the murder trial, the 10-woman, two man jury returned with its guilty verdict.

Robinson will be transported July 2 to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale.

This Week's Circulars