- Courtesy photo Des Moines Register
- Rafael Robinson
Des Moines, IA
Case # 1996-32331
July 31, 1996
On July 31, 1996, Rafael Robinson was shot in the back multiple times outside a public housing complex at 926 Oakridge in Des Moines, Iowa. Gunshots from more than one weapon were heard, but no one admitted witnessing the shooting.
Robinson has become a centerpiece in the upcoming July 8, 2013 second trial for David Flores, who was convicted in 1997 for the 1996 death of Phyllis Davis, a banker who was caught in a two-car shootout between two other vehicles while on her way home from work. The fatal shot killing Davis was said to have been fired from a Chevy Blazer.
Polk County in Iowa
Des Moines in Polk County
Flores was granted a new trial in 2009 based on previously undisclosed evidence. He was released on bond from prison in March 2012, but booked back into the Polk County Jail on Thursday, June 20, 2013, after his bond was revoked. (See update at the Des Moines Register)
According to a Des Moines Register article dated March 21, 2009, many said there was a hit out on Robinson, an alleged henchman and Crips gang member.
Register writer Lee Rood, who has covered and written extensively about the Flores/Robinson/Davis case, said in the March ’09 article that gang member Calvin Tyrone Gaines told an FBI agent that Robinson was inside the Blazer from which the fatal bullet came. From prison, Gaines also told the agent he helped Robinson flee to Los Angles after the shooting.
Rood wrote that an unlikely witness had also stepped forward to add credibility that Robinson was the real shooter. The Register reported:
Jarmaine Allen, a Fort Madison prisoner convicted of second-degree murder for his role in the Davis shooting, told the Register he saw only Robinson inside the rival sport-utility vehicle from which the fatal bullet came.
Allen admitted he was inside an Oldsmobile Cutlass that day with two .38 pistols, with Vincent Cortez Brown driving.
In an interview from prison, Allen recounted the shootout, starting with when he and Brown first spied the Blazer near the Homes of Oakridge near downtown and then tried to lose it as bullets began to fly.
Allen recalled waiting to shoot back as they wove along streets because he didn’t have many bullets, and he couldn’t get a good shot. For a time, the two lost the Blazer, and so they stopped at a QuikTrip and called their friend Antonio Speed at home.
“We told him, be prepared. We’ll be pulling up,” he recalled.
Later, near 18th and Atkins streets, Allen said he saw the Blazer stop and turn around. The driver, he said, talked to the occupants of a small red car. Allen shot at them once.
Allen and Brown eventually stopped at Speed’s house. Allen said he got out of the car and fired about 10 shots from behind the driver’s door. Then he ran into Speed’s house to take cover and get more guns.
As the Blazer approached the house, Allen said he could see the driver: Robinson. At one point, he said, he thought he could see the shadow of at least one other person in the car, but he said he couldn’t be sure.
Then the Blazer sped off.
Speed, he said, came out of his house with a Mossberg shotgun and a couple of rifles. They got into the Cutlass and began driving.
The threesome headed to a nearby hardware store to buy bullets, he said. When they returned, they learned Davis was dead. (Des Moines Register, March 21, 2009)
Three months after Phyllis Davis’s death, Robinson was gunned down. His murder also remains unsolved.
Anyone with information regarding Rafael Robinson’s murder is asked to contact the Des Moines Police Department Detective Bureau at (515) 283-4864 or the Polk County Attorney at (515) 286-3737.
Sources and References:
- Des Moines Police Department, Correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, July 10, 2009
- Polk County Attorney
- “Update: David Flores arrested, held at Polk County Jail | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs,” Des Moines Register, June 20, 2013
- “More new evidence in Flores case raises questions,” Des Moines Register, September 17, 2012
- “Latest decision pushes David Flores closer to trial,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 19, 2011
- “Davis Flores v. State of Iowa,” ia.findacase.com, April 13, 2011
- “Iowa Court of Appeals hears David Flores case,” Des Moines Register, March 9, 2011
- “Seven people cast doubt on evidence that helped convict Flores,” Des Moines Register, December 24, 2009
- “Witness: I didn’t see Flores in SUV in ’96,” Des Moines Register, June 1, 2009
- “Flores case: At new hearing, two witnesses tie another man to Phyllis Davis slaying,” Des Moines Register, March 24, 2009
- “Flores hearing to consider new evidence finally arrives,” Des Moines Register, March 21, 2009
- “Scenario 2 — Robinson confessed before fleeing from D.M.,” Des Moines Register, March 21, 2009
- “Scenario 1 – Flores had a reason to hide after shooting,” Des Moines Register, March 21, 2009
- “Interactive: Understand the case,” Des Moines Register, March 11, 2009
- “Blues for Phyllis Davis,” Iowa Law Enforcement Reporter, January 30, 2009
- “Third person disputes Flores’ role in shootout,” Des Moines Register, January 27, 2009
- “In prison, life tick, tick, ticks away for Flores,” Des Moines Register, December 22, 2008
- “New trial ordered in death that set off gang shootings,” Des Moines Register, December 18, 2008
- “Flores report’s merit debated,” Des Moines Register, July 15, 2008
- “The Flores case: Then and now,” Des Moines Register, June 29, 2008
- “D.M. police won’t give up records in ’96 shooting,” DM Juice, Des Moines Register, June 12, 2008
- “Why a man serving life for murder could go free,” Des Moines Register, January 6, 2008