Death sentence upheld for Kansas killer who stuffed women's bodies in barrels

John E. Robinson Sr. in 2002.

John E. Robinson Sr. in 2002.  (AP Photo/Matthew S. Hicks, Pool)

The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a convicted serial killer on Friday who trolled the Internet for female victims, sometimes using promises of work or sex, and stuffed some of their bodies into barrels on his rural property.

The ruling in the case of John E. Robinson Sr. -- accused of killing seven women and a teenage girl in Kansas and Missouri -- marked the first time that Kansas' high court has upheld a death sentence since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1994.

Robinson was sentenced to death for killing two women in Kansas, in 1999 and 2000. The justices upheld his death sentence in a 415-page ruling that also addressed numerous technical arguments raised by Robinson's attorneys.

Robinson also was convicted for the 1985 death of a third young Kansas woman whose body was never found. Robinson, now 71, was sentenced to life in prison for killing four other women and a teenage girl in Missouri.

Before Friday's ruling, the court had faced criticism over the number of death sentences it had overturned.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering appeals in three such cases, including those of brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr, who were convicted of dozens of crimes leading up to the murders of four people in a snow-covered soccer field in Wichita in December 2000. A total of nine men are on Kansas' death row.

Robinson was convicted in the 2000 death of 27-year-old Suzette Trouten of Newport, Michigan, and the 1999 killing of 21-year-old Izabela Lewicka, a Polish immigrant who attended Purdue University. His third, noncapital conviction in Kansas was in connection with the 1985 death of Lisa Stasi, a 19-year-old who was last seen by her family with Robinson in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

According to evidence during his trial, Robinson used the Internet to lure Trouten and Lewicka to Kansas, and their bodies were found in June 2000 in large barrels on Robinson's rural property 60 miles south of Kansas City. Two days later, three more bodies were discovered in barrels in a storage locker Robinson rented in the Kansas City area.

Prosecutors described Robinson as a predator who trolled the Internet under the name "Slavemaster" looking for sadomasochistic sex with women.

Robinson raised more than 100 issues in appealing his Kansas convictions and death sentence, including the ability of a juror in his 2002 trial to bring a Bible into deliberations.

In arguments before the state Supreme Court earlier this year, Robinson's attorney said it was improper for prosecutors in Kansas to bring killings in Missouri into their case,  so that Robinson would be eligible for a death sentence for multiple murders occurring in a single course of conduct.