KELOWNA – Accused murderer Grace Robotti faced two of her closest family members on the final day of evidence submissions today in Kelowna court.
Grace Robotti’s brother, Pier, who was with her the morning she killed Roxanne Louie with a metal bar and who dumped the body near Naramata, testified in Kelowna Supreme Court today, April 3, that he only went along with the coverup for the sake of Louie’s three-year-old son.
"I had insisited from that night… let's go to the police right now," he said today, April 3.
Pier told jurors he arrived at Grace’s mobile home sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2015 to a verbal altercation between Grace and Louie, who often stayed there.
When he saw Louie’s son, Grace Robotti’s great-grandson, standing in the hall watching the argument, he ushered him back to his bed. During this time the fight turned physical and when Pier left the bedroom he saw Louie and Grace on the floor of the room where Louie sometimes slept.
The room was dark, but Pier could see Louie on top of Grace holding something that extended from her hand.
“She appeared to be trying to strike (Grace) with something,” he testified.
Fearing for his sister’s safety, he crashed shoulder-first into Louie, knocking her off Grace.
“She started to come after me,” Pier said.
While he fought for control of Louie’s wrist, he says the much smaller Louie managed to hit him in the hand with a metal prybar, scratch his face and knee him in the crotch.
He says he never fully felt in control of her — even after she dropped the metal bar — until he saw a shadow out of the corner of his eye.
“I more heard than saw,” Pier said. “Like little thumps.”
He testified he never saw Grace hit Louie.
Earlier in the trial the pathologist who conducted Louie’s autopsy testified she died as a result of at least 26 blows to the head.
Pier says the next thing he remembers was noticing blood on his hands after Grace told him to go check on Louie’s son. The three-year-old was awake in his bedroom, sitting up in his bed “whimpering.”
“I was just in a daze,” he says.
When he returned to the scene he saw Grace trying to clean blood off the floor, and a black yard waste bag was covering Louie's head and upper body.
“I asked my sister ‘is she dead,’ she said ‘yes,’ ‘are you sure,’ she said ‘yes.’ I didn’t want to look, to be honest with you. It was too much.”
Much of Pier’s recollection of that morning coincides with testimony given by Grace earlier in the trial, however Grace says the siblings did not call for an ambulance because both of them checked vital signs and were “pretty sure” Louie was dead.
Pier says he took Grace’s word that Louie had died, and immediately went outside where he “started pacing and chain smoking.”
“Grace came out and asked me to do one thing,” he said. “She asked me to get her body out because she didn’t want (Louie’s son) to see."
“I said 'all right, I’ll do this.'”
He and Grace loaded the body into the trunk of Grace’s car and he drove to Arawana Road where he dumped it in the woods. He first testified he slid the body down the bank but then said the body stopped sliding so he went down, positioned her body under a tree, crossed her arms and delivered a quick eulogy.
“I did say something. I said 'you’re with your elders now.'”
The body was not found until a week later, after Pier and Grace showed up at Penticton RCMP detachment Jan. 12, 2015 at the same time as a couple they had told about the murder the night before.
Grace and Pier were arrested.
Also testifying today was Danielle Robotti, Grace’s daughter, who only learned of the murder the night before the couple turned themselves in.
She testified she believes the death was an accident and the only reason Grace lied to her — along with police, Louie’s family and the public — was to protect her.
“I don’t remember what happened after that, I was in shock for the next few years," Danielle said.
Closing arguments will take place later this week, after which time the jury will deliberate and deliver a verdict.
Grace Robotti has pleaded guilty to moving a dead body but not guilty to second-degree murder.
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