BELLEFONTAINE — Almost 10 years have passed since Michael Robinson beat his infant son nearly to death — the injuries to the child’s brain so profound that Dana Robinson lived a life filled with medical complications and chronic pain before he died in his bed at the age of 9 last year.
But now Michael Robinson has been charged with murder.
A Logan County grand jury indicted Robinson, 52, on Tuesday. He’s in the Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, serving a 14-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2008 to charges of felonious assault, endangering children and domestic violence in connection with Dana’s beating at the family’s Bellefontaine home in February 2007. He now faces up to life in prison.
Eric Stewart, chief assistant prosecutor in Logan County, said that after Dana died in his sleep Nov. 13, 2015, detectives requested an autopsy. The Montgomery County coroner said that Dana, who had been left a paraplegic with cerebral palsy, died of complications from his severe brain trauma.
No date for Michael Robinson’s arraignment on this new charge in Logan County Common Pleas Court has yet been set.
Dana’s was a life that The Columbus Dispatch chronicled, first because local investigators said it was the worst case of child abuse they’d ever seen. Dana had been systematically tortured since birth: shaken, squeezed, smacked, pricked with pins and pinched. Michael Robinson had hurt his older sons before, and said in court that he was only trying to “toughen them up.” As doctors once testified about Dana’s injuries in court, Michael rolled his eyes.
Doctors said Dana was sentenced at his father’s hands to a short life of darkness and solitude, and, after the state took custody, he was sent to live in a specialized nursing home several hours away. But Dan and Mary Robinson (Dan a distant but estranged cousin of Michael’s) saw Dana’s story on the news. The couple, from Quincy in Logan County, eventually adopted Dana, as well as one of his older brothers who had been abused, and gave them a happy home.
The couple spent their retirement on alternative therapies for Dana and refused to confine him to a life imprisoned in his own faulty body. They traveled, and took him to circuses and to the ocean, to amusement parks and on hayrides. They sent him to school where teachers said he learned to communicate with his eyes. He learned to laugh.
So when Mary Robinson found him dead in his bed a year ago, she was devastated. But not surprised. “I think his little body got tired,” she told The Dispatch then. “I think he got tired of fighting for every breath. I think he just let go.”
And Tuesday, upon hearing that Michael Robinson faces life in prison on a murder charge, she said she is overwhelmed and maybe even a little numb. Dana will be gone a year on Sunday.
“It’s hard without him, and we miss him every day,” she said. “Nothing that happens to Michael will ever change that.”