Man pleads guilty in shooting death of Golden businessman

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Arkansas man accused of killing the owner of a liquor store in Golden back in January of 2006 will not stand trial for first degree murder.

Instead, Luke A. Trottier, 43, of Berryville, Ark., pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second degree murder and armed criminal action. His plea was made on Friday just three days before his trial for first degree murder was scheduled to begin in Lawrence County Circuit Court on a change of venue from Barry County. J. Edward Sweeney was assigned to preside over the trial as a senior judge.

Trottier was charged with the shooting death of John E. Robinson, the 58-year-old owner of Golden Package in Golden, on Jan. 24, 2006.

According to court documents submitted when the original charges were filed, Trottier entered the Golden Package store sometime on the night of Jan. 24, 2006, and shot Robinson at least twice with a 12-gauge shotgun.

David Bowman, who was an investigator with the Barry County Sheriff's Department at the time of the crime, said Trottier had an altercation with Robinson earlier in the day and Robinson had asked Trottier not to return.

Witnesses said they saw Trottier and Robinson arguing during the day and later saw the suspect's vehicle, a tan and green Jeep, parked across the road from the liquor store that night. Robinson was found dead in his store around 10 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2006, by deputies who were responding to a 911 call made by an area resident who went by the store to check on Robinson and found him shot and lying on the ground.

In an interview following Trottier's arrest on Jan. 25, 2006, Sheriff Mick Epperly said Trottier told officers he didn't mean to shoot Robinson. He said he had been drinking and carried a gun with him into the store.

"It seems to be a case of uncontrolled anger," said Epperly.

Trottier was arrested by Sheriff Epperly and officers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol at his parents home in Grandview, Ark., which is located about six miles south of Golden, the day after the shooting.

Trottier is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Sweeney in Lawrence County Circuit Court on 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. He faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count.

The case against Trottier was prosecuted by Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Johnnie Cox. Trottier is represented by Shara Anne Martin, assistant public defender from Monett.

According to Cox, Trottier has a history of mental illness and was initially found to be mentally incompetent to proceed with the trial by Department of Mental Health doctors. Trottier was then deemed competent to stand trial in April of 2007.

Trottier has been committed to the Missouri Department of Mental Health awaiting his sentence.

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