NEW PHILADELPHIA — Jordan Robinson apologized Thursday to the mother of Luke Cabbage for his role in the Sept. 11, 2017, shooting death of her son in Newcomerstown.
"I'd just like to apologize for any part I had with any of this," Robinson, 20, of Bloomingdale, Ohio, said as he stood facing Kathy Cabbage in the courtroom of Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Judge Edward O'Farrell. "Luke didn't deserve that. No one intended for that to happen."
Robinson was facing charges of aggravated murder, murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery, conspiracy and evidence tampering. But in an agreement reached Thursday, prosecutors dropped the aggravated murder, murder and evidence tampering charges, and Robinson agreed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery and conspiracy.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but will have the possibility of judicial release after three and a half years.
Robinson, who is free on a personal recognizance bond, must report to the Tuscarawas County Jail on April 2 for transportation to a state prison.
He had been scheduled to go on trial April 17.
In December, Arnoldo Moreno-Orduno, 19, of Dillonvale, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for killing Cabbage with a single gunshot to the back.
Kyle G. Boyd, 22, of Mingo Junction, is scheduled for jury trial on March 13 on a four-count indictment, which includes two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of conspiracy.
In a press release, Assistant Prosecutor Mike Ernest explained the reasoning behind the agreement with Robinson.
"A manslaughter conviction is fair given the evidence as it has developed," he said. "Under the restraints of individual trials and the evidence rules, it is clear what we can show at trial: Moreno-Orduno was the principal offender and most culpable; Boyd and Robinson knew it would be an armed robbery and participated minimally in the actual robbery and shooting.
"Moreno-Orduno, on the other hand, was instrumental in planning the armed robbery, acquired the pistol, wielded the pistol during the robbery and chased down and shot Cabbage in the back when the robbery went wrong.
"We have worked closely with Luke's mother, she was aware of the discussions, and she is aware of the nature of the evidence. We are grateful that two of the three indictments are resolved."
Before the hearing concluded Thursday, Kathy Cabbage was given a chance to speak.
Fighting back tears, she said, "On Sept. 11, 2017, my life tragically changed forever. My whole world revolved around my only son. I feel numb and physically drained from the grief and the pain. I ask God every day, why Luke, why? I would gladly change places with him to take away the pain that he suffered on that night.
"As a mom, it was my job to nurture and protect him and will forever live with the guilt that I wasn't there when he needed me the most. That was taken away from me. He had to die alone."
Then she spoke to Robinson's mother, who was also in the courtroom.
"To the Robinson family, my heart goes out to you," Cabbage said. "As a mom, my heart breaks for you. You're going to suffer loss too. The only difference is, you have your son and I don't."
After she finished speaking, O'Farrell told her that he was "literally speechless in the face of your incredible mercy and compassion."
The judge then turned to Robinson.
"I know where you're going, and I don't take any pleasure in sending you there," O'Farrell said. "But again, if there is going to be any semblance of justice, you need to go there for your part in this conduct which resulted in Luke Cabbage's death, a young man who deserved to live and is not."
The three defendants were arrested a day after the shooting death of Cabbage, 19, of New Philadelphia.
Jon Baker is a staff writer at The Times-Reporter in New Philadelphia.