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Last sentence handed down

Two years and a day after their son's funeral, Paul and Debbie Velin prepared for one more day in court. They waited outside Judge George Glonek's courtroom Wednesday as a bailiff passed a metal detector wand over people filing in. "Last one," Pa...

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Dallas Robinson looks back at his family as he leaves the courtroom at the Douglas County Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon after being sentenced for his connection with the murder of Garth Velin.Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com

Two years and a day after their son's funeral, Paul and Debbie Velin prepared for one more day in court.

They waited outside Judge George Glonek's courtroom Wednesday as a bailiff passed a metal detector wand over people filing in.

"Last one," Paul Velin said, hugging a woman who'd come for the hearing.

The couple sat down in the packed courtroom for the sentencing of Dallas Eugene Robinson, 20, one of four young adults convicted for their roles in the murder of Garth Velin.

"It was two years ago yesterday we buried Garth," Debbie Velin told the court. The last time she saw her son's face was in "the coffin Dallas Robinson and his friends put him in."

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Robinson will spend 18 years in prison and another 10 years on extended supervision, the same sentence handed to his brother, Kane Michael Robinson, 22, last year.

Dallas Robinson will spend an additional six months in jail for refusing to testify against his brother when called to the witness stand. Juries found both guilty of party to felony murder by a for the fatal shooting of Velin during an attempted robbery Sept. 30, 2014, at Velin's Allouez neighborhood home.

Debbie Velin asked Glonek to impose the maximum penalty on Robinson. When he heard the gunshots while standing outside Garth's house, she said, he chose to run instead of stay and call 911. After his arrest, he continued to change his story and lie.

"It doesn't appear Dallas Robinson cares about anything but himself," she said. "He's probably already working on his appeal."

Robinson spoke before sentencing.

"I know you don't want to hear it," he told the Velin family on the opposite side of the courtroom. "I'm sorry to everyone on that side of the room."

After he heard Garth had been shot, Robinson said, he wished he'd done things differently and gone into the house to help.

"I know he was innocent and did not deserve to die," Robinson said. "He should be here today. I'm sorry for your loss."

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His attorney, Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks, kept his arguments brief. He pointed out Robinson's youth and the fact that he was less involved in the crime than the others. Then Eichhorn-Hicks left the decision to Glonek, who has presided over the cases of all four young people convicted in connection with the crime.

"The court has more knowledge of this case than probably any other," Eichhorn-Hicks said. "I believe you will give us a fair decision."

Glonek took into account Robinson's youth, his chaotic life growing up and that he has assumed responsibility for his conduct to some extent. He also considered the viciousness of the offense and the tragic loss of a young man - Velin was only 20 - who had dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future.

"This is the end for us in the court process," Glonek said. "It's certainly not the end for Paul and Debbie, and their family. It will never be the end for the Velins."

The couple made 100 trips to the courthouse over the past two years for one reason.

"To get some justice for Garth," Paul Velin said. "We can't have him back, but at least we got him some justice."

He thanked law enforcement officers and the District Attorney's Office. In particular, he thanked Glonek for keeping the focus where it should be - on Garth and justice.

Robinson turned to look at his family before being led from the courtroom.

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"Love you, Dallas," called his mother. Two other people echoed her words.

In addition to the Robinson brothers, Teah Joan Phillips, 19, pleaded guilty in April to felony attempted armed robbery with use of force, and was sentenced last month to 12½ years in prison and 6½ years extended supervision.

The shooter, Chance William Andrews, 19, pleaded guilty to felony murder in June 2015 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.

Phillips drove four young men to Superior the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2014, and parked the car a few blocks away. She walked up to Velin's door with a tale of a lost puppy to confirm he was there. Three of the young men - Andrews, Dallas Robinson and Kyham Lavon Dunn - walked to Velin's house seeking money or marijuana. Andrews pulled a gun and shot Velin twice.

The fatal shooting resulted in four convictions and the acquittal of Dunn, 22.

The case left those involved changed.

"This was a tremendous 'youth gone bad' story," said District Attorney Dan Blank, one that involved five different defendants, their "criminal code of silence" and intertwined circumstantial evidence. Each case was tough, he said, but working with five of them at once made it a very difficult packet.

The Velins continue to battle grief and nightmares. Debbie Velin told the court that she dreads each day without her son.

"One of my ultimate goals in public service and prosecution is that the victims will be treated fairly, will access their rights and will have some satisfaction when it's all done," Blank said. "There's a lot of regrets on one hand that not every case went perfectly smooth and had successful results, but I've got to say, four out of five with these facts and circumstances, I think, is a darn good result. I hope the Velins agree with that and I hope the community agrees with that."

Barring a successful appeal, Wednesday's court hearing was the last one for the Velins. Andrews, Phillips and Kane Robinson have all filed notices that they intend to appeal.

Andrews has already made a post-sentencing hearing before Glonek in an attempt to modify his sentence. That motion was denied.

Dallas Robinson has 20 days to file his intent to seek post-conviction relief.

Related Topics: CRIMESUPERIORDOUGLAS COUNTY
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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