$20K approved for experts in case of man accused of killing woman who was set on fire

It’s the second pending capital case in Butler County.

More than $20,000 in expenditures to pay defense experts was approved Wednesday in the case of a man accused of setting a woman on fire and killing her at her Fairfield Twp. home in May.

Robbi Robinson, 23, was initially indicted by a Butler County grand jury for attempted aggravated murder, felonious assault and aggravated arson after his arrest on May 11 as he attempted to leave the scene on Arroyo Ridge Court.

A superseding indictment with the capital charge was handed down in June after the victim Brenda Scott died.

On Wednesday, court-appointed defense attorneys David Brewer and Lawrence Hawkins III were in Butler County Common Pleas Court requesting funding to hire an investigator, a psychologist consultant and a mitigation specialist for their client. Robinson is indigent so the cost of his defense will come from public funds.

The three-week trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 5, 2024.

Judge Keith Spaeth approved a total of $5,000 for an investigator and a max of $7,500 for a defense psychologist. He questioned the need to employ another attorney, Chris Pagan, as the defense mitigation specialist.

A mitigation specialist is used for gather information about the defendant that could be used if a sentencing phase occurs to make a case for a sentence other than death.

Pagan is a longtime Butler County attorney with a great deal of experience in litigating death penalty cases.

Assistant Prosecutor Katie Pridemore said the state did not object as long as Pagan is serving as an information gatherer and “that’s all he’s doing.”

The judge approved $10,000 to for Pagan’s services as a mitigation specialist.

Robinson has pleaded guilty to all charges that include aggravated arson, and felonious assault in addition to aggravated murder. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bond.

Prosecutors say Robinson filled a container with accelerant, took it to an upstairs bedroom, doused the 50-year-old woman with it and lit her on fire. He is also accused of hitting her in the face, knocking out teeth. Scott jumped out a window to escape.

Robinson was declared competent to stand trial after a previous evaluation, but a more comprehensive psychological evaluation has been ordered.

Scott was found on fire in her backyard by a neighbor, who called 911.

Robinson’s initial arraignment last month shed light on some of case details.

Pridemore requested the judge set a high bond, outlining the trauma Scott suffered that included two teeth being knocked out by the roots in addition to the burns and injuries from jumping out a second floor window.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The neighbor called 911 and jumped a fence to help the woman.

“I see a little fire next to her and she is laying in the backyard,” the man told the dispatcher. “She is talking to me. She is hurt bad.”

The woman can be heard in the background saying, ”he set me on fire.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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