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ANALYSIS: What you still need to know about the murder of Roxanne Louie

Grace Robotti leaves the Kelowna courthouse April 6, 2017 after a jury found her guilty of second-degree murder.
April 07, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KELOWNA – Roxanne Louie’s family didn’t say a word to her killer when they left the courtroom. They didn’t even look at her.

Grace Robotti murdered the 26-year-old woman, an Okanagan Indian Band member, by hitting her in the head with a metal bar 26 times. Louie's friends and family also had to listern to her over the course of the three-week trial describe Louie as irresponsible, entitled, troubled, immature, helpless, disorganized, lazy, moody and volatile — all from the perspective from an in-law on trial for murder.

She might have chosen a different strategy.

The occasional compliments thrown in were not enough to convince a jury that her intentions were purely defensive.

“I liked her,” Grace testified. “I just thought she was not very worldly, she was very naïve. It was like talking to a young teenager. But you know, I just, kind of, that’s all.”

She said Roxanne often lashed out at Grace, even though Grace says she helped her in everything from driving her to appointments to painting and cleaning her apartment. 

"She was going on calling me those names. Saying I didn’t know anything. I did this and I did that. Her and Dylan (Robotti's grandson) would still be together with two children if it wasn’t for me. All kinds of foolish stuff.”

Grace appeared to resent Louie’s perceived lack of appreciation for Grace’s grandson, who worked in Alberta. He and Louie dated and even lived together until a fight in which Louie cut him with a broken beer bottle, she said. They broke up in October 2012.

“She had a vision of a perfect, perfect family. I used to tell her there are a lot of guys who have to work out of province. She felt she was deserted, alone. She didn’t seem to understand that… you do need to work to survive. She felt he was deserting her.”

Unprompted, Grace brought up Louie’s “lack of focus,” as well, saying she wanted to be an actress, fashion model, talent agent and clothing designer. She said she was often late and disorganized and characterized her as inconsiderate and immature.

“She didn’t want to do an assignment because a character (in the book) had same name as someone she didn’t like,” Grace testified. “She always claims she has financial problems but… she always buys clothes and she got a tan one day.”

Her complaints didn't stray far from many in-law conflicts or even a simple generational gap.

Roxanne Louie was killed Jan. 4, 2015. Her grandmother-in-law Grace Robotti was convicted of her second-degree murder April 6, 2017.
Roxanne Louie was killed Jan. 4, 2015. Her grandmother-in-law Grace Robotti was convicted of her second-degree murder April 6, 2017.
Image Credit: Facebook

The trial wrapped up a week earlier than expected and came down to whether or not Grace Robotti meant to kill Louie. The Crown says the litany of complaints about her from Robotti prove she clearly did not like her.

It’s hard to see lack of intent in act of the murder itself, as well.

Nearly everything we think we know about what happened that night also comes from the two people implicated in her murder.

A 16-ounce pry bar.
A 16-ounce pry bar.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

Grace Robotti contended that she was defending herself and that it was Louie who attacked first. But it’s highly unlikely Louie had some plan to take on two people with a six-ounce pry-bar. It’s not much bigger than a TV remote control.

Both Robottis said Pier came into the room when Grace and Roxanne were fighting. They say he held Roxanne while Grace took the prybar away from her and hit her with it.
If it was a large pry-bar and she hit her once and killed her, maybe that would be unintentional and therefore manslaughter. But again, it wasn’t a large pry bar. It would be difficult to seriously harm someone with a few blows.

And Grace didn’t deliver just a few blows. It was dozens; 26 and to the face and head alone, some after she was already dead. How long did that take? Thirty seconds? A minute? Longer? Long enough to be deliberate.

What jurors nor the public were allowed to know until Grace's verdict was in, was that Pier was not prosecuted for murder or manslaughter. On the day of his murder trial, at his last opportunity, the Crown accepted a plea to interfering with a body. Murder and manslaughter charges were dropped.

But Pier clearly played a crucial role in the murder. Grace was roughly 63 and armed only with that small prybar against a younger, more aggressive Louie; it’s tough to conceive that she could have killed Louie unless Louie was defenceless, without Pier holding her, whether he knew Grace was killing her or not.

Again, how long did he hold her? Pier has not yet been sentenced.

Shortly after 9 p.m. April 6, after a day of deliberations, Grace Robotti was found guilty of second-degree murder.

Grace Elinor Robotti is led out of Penticton courthouse after a brief appearance in 2015.
Grace Elinor Robotti is led out of Penticton courthouse after a brief appearance in 2015.

She faces a mandatory life sentence but the jury recommended she be eligible for parole after 10 years. They could have gone as high as 25.

Throughout the trial Robotti, who has been free on bail, sat in the docket, often resting her head in one hand, her eyes cast downward. She looked equally exhausted leaving the courtroom after Judge Dev Dley extended bail until sentencing later this month.

Louie’s family, most of whom attended every day of the trial, appeared equally worn out by the last two years. There was no celebrating, only a quiet gathering in a circle outside Supreme Court.

In a media release from Okanagan Nation Alliance, Roxanne’s uncle Dan Wilson calls the verdict “a part of moving towards justice for Roxanne.”

“It is important to highlight the systemic discrimination, racism and oppression that continues to be placed on indigenous peoples and communities through such legal cases as these. Overall, we want to thank the jury for the sacrifice and hard work in dealing with these difficult issues.”


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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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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