Lunch Meat

Aug. 25, 2010

By Jacob Quinn Sanders
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The only photographs Larry Robinson Sr. has of his son and namesake anymore are the one on his funeral program and the ones of him in his open casket.

On the program, his son’s young eyes sparkle beneath the shadow cast by the brim of his baseball cap. The scraggly, short whiskers on his chin and upper lip frame a broad smile. Above the photograph is a respectful rendering of his name: “Mr. Larry Robinson, Jr.” Below it is the nickname his father hated: “Lunch Meat.”

“What a horrible name,” Robinson said. “My boy’s name was Larry, same as mine.”

He said he had no idea where the nickname came from.

Larry Robinson Sr. pulls out the casket photographs in a short stack, glossy as if they were printed on Tuesday rather than in 1995. There was his son in a tie and a charcoal-gray pinstripe suit, a calm look on his face, his goatee trimmed tight and close.

There were more photographs, but they burned in a house fire not long after the younger Robinson died at age 21.

For 15 years, the elder Robinson waited for Little Rock police to tell him they had found out who shot his son in the neck behind a gambling house on Wolfe Street late one Wednesday afternoon.

On Monday, one of Robin- son’s daughters called him to say police had finally made an arrest. On Tuesday, detectives assigned to the Little Rock Police Department’s coldcase unit charged Trimell Mc-Intosh, 34, with first-degree murder in the slaying.

Larry Robinson Sr. remembered McIntosh only as a boy who used to have sleepovers with his son, who was a few years older.

Little Rock District Judge Alice Lightle set McIntosh’s bail at $250,000 during a brief hearing Tuesday morning. He was in Cell D111 at the Pulaski County jail Tuesday night.

McIntosh’s mother, Bobbie Couch, went to district court Tuesday morning to watch her son appear at the hearing on a closed-circuit television from the Pulaski County jail.

Outside the courtroom, after Lightle set bail and ordered a DNA sample taken from McIntosh, although Arkansas Department of Correction records show that his DNA is already on file, Couch tried to control her rage.

“He’s getting railroaded,” she said. “Can you remember what you did 15 years ago? Everything you did 15 years ago? Then how can these people? These people who said my son did something I know he didn’t do. He couldn’t have.”

McIntosh has been in and out of the Arkansas justice system since the mid-1990s. He served two stints in prison on drug charges and is on parole until 2016.

“It’s time that he pay for all his dues,” Larry Robinson Sr. said. “I don’t see how he lived with himself. They were practically brothers.”

Robinson said Tuesday that he didn’t know that the cold-case unit had even taken up the case.

“My phone number’s different than 15 years ago,” he said Tuesday, sitting in the shade of his modest house on a small street north of Wrightsville. “Maybe I’m hard to find.”

AFFIDAVIT DETAILS

Little Rock police detective Greg Siegler’s sworn affidavit filed in district court Tuesday suggests a motive for the shooting.

A drug dealer called “Eric” offered $5,000 or $10,000 for someone to kill Larry Robinson Jr. after 5 pounds of the dealer’s cocaine disappeared, Siegler wrote. More than one person volunteered to do the job, Siegler wrote.

In Apartment 597 at 6310 Asher Ave. later on the same day that Robinson died, a police informant asked Eric if he still needed Robinson killed, Siegler wrote. Not anymore, Eric told the informant, according to Siegler’s affidavit, “because the subject sitting on the couch just killed the guy at 30th and Wolfe.”

“As they were sitting in the apartment,” Siegler wrote, “Trimell McIntosh then told Eric the guy got to running his mouth, and he shot him.”

A few hours later, Little Rock police raided Apartment 597 while investigating Robinson’s death and seized $114,700 in cash from a safe, according to Pulaski County court documents. They found four people there, including McIntosh, but made no arrests.

One of the people the court documents list as being inside the apartment had a first name of Eric, the same name as in Siegler’s affidavit.

“Whether those are the same person is a subject of our ongoing investigation,” Little Rock Police Department spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said. “That’s something we’re aware of and actively taking a look at.”

Two other witnesses told police that McIntosh killed Robinson, Siegler wrote in the affidavit. One said he saw McIntosh with a gun outside the Wolfe Street house and asked what was going on.

“[The witness] stated that Trimell stated that he just shot Robinson and continued running in a northeasterly direction,” Siegler wrote.

The same witness said he talked to McIntosh again in 2004 about the killing, Siegler wrote. In that conversation, Siegler wrote, McIntosh said he never got his promised $10,000.

REMEMBERING HIS SON

On Tuesday afternoon, Larry Robinson Sr. stood at his son’s grave in the Virginia Baptist Church cemetery north of Wrightsville on the east side of Arkansas 365.

He remembered that he broke his left leg not long before his son died and had to struggle with a cast at the funeral. He lived in North Little Rock then, near Vestal Park, and his car wouldn’t work.

His daughter — the same one who called Monday about the arrest — called to tell him that his only son had been shot. By the time he got a ride to UAMS Medical Center, Larry Robinson Jr. was dead.

“You don’t question God’s will,” he said. “That’s how I cope with it. I mean, for real, I know a few people who got shot in the neck, and he’s the only one didn’t make it.”

Robinson said he knew that his son smoked marijuana, which was OK because he did, too. He knew that his son called himself a Crips gang member and that his friends did, as well.

“They were just kids,” he said. “They want to be in a little gang, fine. What could they do?”

At the hospital, his son’s friends started telling Robinson what they’d heard about the shooting.

“They all told me the same thing,” he said. “All his little buddies kept saying Trimell, Trimell, Trimell. I’ve been hearing that name a long time.”

The mound of dirt on the grave of Larry Robinson Jr. is still piled high, green in places with grass and a few weeds. At one time, there was a small marker with his name on it, but it disappeared two years ago.

Most of Robinson’s family is buried there, scattered underneath the uneven ground. Robinson pointed to the graves of his mother and father, one of his brothers, a cousin, his grandparents, a half brother and then his son. Every Memorial Day, he buys new fake flowers to place at each grave.

“I get them wherever they’re the cheapest,” he said. “I ain’t going to lie. It’s a lot of people.”

He lives less than a third of a mile from the cemetery, but he didn’t go there Monday after he heard about the arrest.

“What did I have to tell Larry?” Robinson asked. “He’s known for 15 years who did it.”

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