Trial date set for man facing death penalty if convicted of killing woman set on fire

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

A man accused of setting Brenda Scott on fire and killing her last month at a Fairfield Twp. home was back in court Thursday facing an aggravated murder charge with a possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

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.

That was before Scott died and a superseding indictment was handed down Wednesday, making Robinson’s case the second capital case pending in Butler County.

Defense attorneys David Brewer and Lawrence Hawkins III, certified to represent defendants in death penalty cases, were appointed to represent Robinson.

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth said he would like to try the case this year, but set it for Feb. 5, 2024 after attorneys indicated more time was needed to prepare.

Robinson pleaded not guilty again to all charges that include aggravated arson, and felonious assault in addition to aggravated murder. He is being held in lieu of 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.

Last week, Robinson was in Spaeth’s court for a competency evaluation hearing, where he was declared competent to stand trial on the original charges.

After Thursday’s hearing, Brewer said he is requesting Robinson receive a more comprehensive forensic psychological evaluation.

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.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Katie 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

At the time of the arrest, Robinson was possibly having “suicidal ideations”, and while he has been in the Butler County Jail, phone calls to family indicate he tried to reach out to the victim, Pridemore said.

In jail-monitored phone calls made while the victim was still living, Robinson said he “wants someone to get into the hospital room, talk to the victim, talk her out of prosecuting, have her drop the charges ...” Pridemore said.

If out on bond, Pridemore said she believed he would have tried to have access to the victim “to harm her, to harass her and to intimidate her.”

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

About the Author