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Accused murderer Grace Robotti takes stand in her own defence

Grace Elinor Robotti is led out of Penticton courthouse after a brief appearance in 2015.
March 30, 2017 - 5:28 PM

KELOWNA – A tearful Grace Robotti says the only reason she didn’t call police after she realized she killed Roxanne Louie is because she didn’t want her great grandson to have to live with Louie’s family.

In an emotional day in court, the 67-year-old great-grandmother took the stand for the first time in her own defence. She admits she killed her grandson’s ex-girlfriend Jan. 4, 2015 with a metal bar but denies it was intentional. She is charged with second-degree murder.

Robotti spent the morning in Kelowna Supreme Court describing herself as a devoted great-grandmother to Roxanne Louie’s son and assisted Louie herself.

“I was driving her everywhere, bringing her groceries. She stayed over at my house, I cleaned her apartment, painted her apartment, unplugged sink, changed lightbulbs. She just seemed to need a lot of that sort of help. A lot,” she testified.

Robotti also testified that she and Louie had ongoing fights about how best to carry, feed and care for the young boy. She described Louie as difficult, naïve, dramatic, immature, narcissistic and unstable.

“There was a lot of drama,” she said. “I started to think there was more going on than just being emotional. I started seeing things I hadn’t seen before. Or just dismissed. Weird things. Constantly blaming other people for things not going her way. Not taking any responsibility for herself. She was projecting stuff she was doing onto other people. It’s hard to explain. It became cumulative.”

The night Louie died, she and her young son were staying at Grace Robotti’s Penticton home. They were supposed to fly back to Vancouver the next morning but Louie got home late and hadn’t packed.

While Robotti was putting the boy to bed, she says Louie made several comments about how she was holding her. Robotti admits the comments bothered her but didn’t bring it up until much later in the night.

“I decided it was a good time to talk about what she meant,” she said. “I was trying to understand what her issue was.”

She says Louie started pacing and becoming “increasingly shrill” and called Grace “a stupid old woman who didn’t know anything.”

"She started bringing everything up, every little thing.”

At some point during the argument, Robotti says she heard Louie throw a blue, 16-oz metal bar at a wall next to where she stood. She says she didn’t see it but heard it. Louie, she says, picked up the bar and approached Robotti. Robotti grabbed Louie’s arm and the two began fighting.

Robotti says Louie locked onto her hair and the two struggled until they were on the floor in the room Louie slept in when visiting.

She still had the bar in her hand at this point and Louie was on top of Robotti when co-accused Pier Robotti, Grace Robotti’s brother, entered the room.

Grace says her brother arrived before the fight turned physical but denies calling him to help attack or restrain Louie.

“He was up, I was up. It wasn’t that unusual,” she said.

Pier entered the room and saw Louie on top of Grace. He shoved her off and restrained her on the ground while Grace pried the metal bar from her hand, she said.

That’s when she struck Louie for the first time.

“I’ve never been in a physical altercation in my entire life. I was panicked. I was scared,” she said through sobs. “She was going after (Pier) with her nails. So I hit her, I hit her. I can’t believe it. I hit her.”

Grace says Louie continued trying to attack the senior siblings so she hit her again.

Roxanne Louie was killed Jan. 4, 2015. Her grandmother-in-law Grace Robotti is currently on trial in Kelowna Supreme Court for first degree murder.
Roxanne Louie was killed Jan. 4, 2015. Her grandmother-in-law Grace Robotti is currently on trial in Kelowna Supreme Court for first degree murder.
Image Credit: Facebook

“That’s probably when I hit her all those times. I was trying to hold her down… and then she stopped moving. I put the (bar) across (Louie’s chest) and was holding her down. I thought ok, and then she was too still. She wasn’t saying anything.

“At that point I thought there was something wrong. She was too still. I went to feel around for her pulse. I couldn’t feel it. I thought, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. (Pier) put the light on and she was gone. I couldn’t look at her.”

Robotti says she remembers being shocked by all the blood, wondering where it all came from. Then her thoughts turned to her great-grandson who was in another room of the house.

“At that point I couldn’t bring her back … I wanted to make sure he didn’t see anything so we had to clean up… I had these visions of calling the police and social workers… I was terrified he would end up, I’m sorry, with her mother. I know she wouldn’t have wanted that.”

"I wasn’t thinking of how it would make me look worse and all the lies I would have to do. This little guy was going to be pulled out in the middle of the night."

She says Pier wanted to call the police “right then and there” but she convinced him to wait.

“We need to somehow put her somewhere for now,” she said. “He was saying no, we can’t. Finally he did agree.”

Grace and Pier Robotti would eventually cooperate with a missing person investigation, while knowing all along Pier had allegedly dumped the body in a wooded area.

His trial has concluded but results are being withheld until both cases are settled.

Grace Robotti has pleaded guilty to interfering with a dead body.

The trial is expected to last several more weeks.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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