Grace Robotti faces the jury in her murder trial
Grace Robotti took the stand in her own defence on Thursday and Friday.
The 67-year-old is on trial for the second degree murder of 26-year-old Roxanne Louie during the early morning hours of January 4, 2015 in her Penticton house. Louie was the mother of Robotti's great-grandson.
Robotti testified that on the day she killed Louie, the two women had gotten into a verbal argument that escalated when Louie threw a crowbar towards her. Louie picked the crowbar up again and Robotti says she put her hand on Louie’s arm to protect herself.
“I kept telling her to ‘put it down’, and ‘stop’ and ‘calm down’, that’s mostly what I was saying most of the night” Robotti says.
Robotti’s brother, Pier Robotti, walked into the house during the fight, but he went into a bedroom to put Louie’s son to sleep.
The fight eventually spilled into the den of the house, where Robotti says Louie got on top of her, crowbar still in hand, trying to hit Robotti with it.
Robotti says Pier came into the den and pulled Louie off, pinning her to the ground. The crowbar fell to the floor, which Robotti picked up.
“I just hit her a couple of times, I don’t know, I hit her just to help him, I wasn’t, I don’t know why I did it, that’s probably what it was, just wanted to make her stop cause she had turned on my brother” she says.
Robotti believes she only hit Louie a couple of times at this point as things seemed to “calm down” and Pier Robotti left the room. Robotti says she dropped the crowbar, but things “started again” when Louie picked the crowbar up.
“I eventually got it away from her and I think that’s when I ended up hitting her”
Robotti says she doesn’t know exactly where she was hitting Louie as the den was dark and her glasses had been knocked off during the altercation.
“I ended up on top of her, it would have been on her upper body and I think it was, it was probably on her head”
She says she hit Louie because she wanted her to “stop”.
“She was still moving, but I did stop and then, I just, I was still kinda straddling her and I was trying to hold her down and then she just stopped, stayed still”
Robotti says she also put the crowbar on Louie’s chest at one point while she was still moving.
Forensic officers say Louie had been hit 26 times.
When Louie stopped moving, Robotti says she started to feel for a pulse in the dark room.
“I just didn’t believe it could be happening, I was trying to see if she was ok….thought she was too quite just seemed like she was too quiet suddenly”
She says she couldn’t feel a pulse on Louie’s neck or chest and asked Pier to check as well. Neither of them checked to see if she was breathing or called an ambulance.
Robotti says her thoughts then turned to her great-grandson, Louie’s son, who was sleeping in another room.
“At that point there was nothing I could do about Roxanne but there was still something I could so about [Louie’s son] and….I’m sorry to her family but she had told me so many things about how she was raised with her mom, with her mom, and things that happened, and I could not even imagine, and if [he] were to be dropped off with her mother”
Robotti says the reason she didn’t call police after she killed Louie was to “buy time” because she wanted to make arrangements that would ensure her great-grandson was with her daughter, instead of Louie’s mother.
Pier dumped Louie’s body in Naramata while Robotti cleaned the house. Robotti says she put all evidence of the murder, including some of Louie’s belongings, in about 3 garbage bags, which she threw out in a “couple” of dumpsters in Penticton.
Robotti says the following day she told some people that Louie was missing and that she didn’t know where Louie was. She also filed a missing person’s report to the police a couple days later, all because she says she wanted to “buy time”.
Crown lawyer John Swanson challenged Robotti, suggesting that she initially didn’t tell police so that she could get away with the murder.
“I could not have lived with something like that,” she replies “I was, I could not have lived with something like that and even what happened and what I was doing wasn’t me that week and I just couldn’t live with that, I couldn’t”
Swanson reveals that Pier confessed to a couple what had happened several days later and pressed Robotti, asking her if the reason she eventually went to the police on January 11, 2015 to turn herself in was because she knew a couple had known what they did, which Robotti denies.
The trial continues Monday.