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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Man convicted for 1993 slaying of woman, 33

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Robert Wilson is currently serving a 13-year sentence on unrelated convictions.
Robert Wilson is currently serving a 13-year sentence on unrelated convictions.
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A Toledo man was convicted in Lucas County Common Pleas Court last night for the 1993 murder of Brenda Navarre, who died as a result of a 110-pound boulder being dropped on her head.

A jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about 5 hours before convicting Robert Wilson, 52.

He is serving a 13-year prison sentence in the Toledo Correctional Institution on unrelated convictions and faces 15 years to life in prison for Ms. Navarre s death. A sentencing date was not set. The state is pleased with the verdict. We think that the evidence that was given to the jury dictates this result, Assistant Prosecutor Michael Loisel said.

The evidence is old and memories are faded. However, the state felt that the testimony from the witness stand dictated this verdict.

Ms. Navarre was found on the night of Dec. 1, 1993, on a sidewalk near Paxton and E streets with a severe head injury. Authorities found a large rock covered in blood nearby.

The 33-year-old Toledo mother of five died the following day.

For years, the case remained unsolved. Yesterday, Ms. Navarre s family members were overcome with emotion when the verdict was read and were escorted from the courtroom. They declined to comment.

Mr. Loisel told jurors during closing arguments yesterday that Ms. Navarre was a confidential informant for the Toledo police s vice narcotics unit and that Wilson was one of the dealers from whom she purchased crack cocaine.

When he found out that she was a snitch, Mr. Loisel said, Wilson responded by killing her.

Defense attorney Ronnie Wingate countered during closing arguments that there was no physical evidence that Mr. Wilson had anything to do with the death of Brenda Navarre.

He added that the motive for Wilson to kill Ms. Navarre would be the same for anyone who would have sold drugs to Brenda Navarre over that period of time.

Mr. Wingate declined to comment after the verdict.

Wilson s family, who had watched most of the four-day trial, was not in the courtroom to hear the verdict.

Ms. Navarre s murder was reopened by cold-case detectives when Wilson s wife, Janet, talked to investigators in 2003.

Mrs. Wilson testified Wednesday that she came forward because she could no longer live with the knowledge of a murder.

She also testified that she faced a felony obstruction-of-justice charge in the case, but that it would be dismissed after she gave truthful testimony. Judge Stacy Cook dismissed the charge yesterday.

Mrs. Wilson was limited in her testimony by spousal privilege.

In a decision reached Wednesday without the jury present, Visiting Judge James Barber of Fulton County Common Pleas Court ruled that Mrs. Wilson was unable to testify about conversations and conduct that occurred when she was alone with her husband.

Mr. Wingate reminded jurors during closing arguments that they could not speculate as to what Mrs. Wilson would have said, but only what was in her testimony.

Mr. Loisel told jurors to consider the totality of the evidence and to not consider it a case of Janet Wilson versus Robert Wilson.

He said that Mrs. Wilson s statements alone may not convict Wilson, but taken with statements from law enforcement and Mrs. Wilson s son, Alfonzo Davis, they pointed to the killer.

Mr. Davis testified Wednesday that he had a conversation with Wilson about confidential informants.

He testified that Wilson had told him that snitches die.

Contact Erica Blake at:eblake@theblade.comor 419-213-2134.



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