It was the 15th of February, 1998, and 19-year-old Amy Robinson was riding her bicycle to a Kroger grocery store in Arlington, Texas, where she was employed as a cashier. Michael Wayne Hall and his friend, Robert Neville, approached the young woman in their car and asked if she wanted a ride. The two men had worked at the grocery store with Robinson in the past so she recognized them. When she got into the car, they drove her to a rural field in Fort Worth.
The two men got out of the car and walked into the field as Robinson sat in the car listening to the radio. Robinson was born with a mental disability and Turner’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by short stature and lack of sexual development at puberty. Due to her disability, Robinson didn’t realize that something ominous was about to happen. It didn’t occur to her that being out in a field in the middle of the night with two men who were behaving very peculiar could be dangerous. “She was very loving and trusted everyone,” recalled Robinson’s grandmother, Caroyln Barker. “She said everyone is a good person and no one is bad.”1
Hall and Neville asked Robinson to get out of the car. As she stepped out, Hall shot her in the back of the leg with a pellet gun and attempted to shoot her with a crossbow. As Robinson started to cry, the men burst into laughter. Neville went to the trunk of the car and retrieved his .22 calibre rifle and shot Robinson in the chest while Hall shot her “three or four times” in the chest with his pellet gun. As she fell to the ground, crying in pain, Hall stood over her for about five to ten minutes. He just watched as the life drained out of her.
When they became bored, Neville finally shot Robinson in the head. Days later, they returned to the scene and fired more shots into Robinson’s body before stealing her keys and money.
It wouldn’t be long until authorities had identified Hall and Neville as suspects in the grisly murder; they had bragged about what they had done to numerous people. They were apprehended on the 3rd of March during a customs check at the Mexican border, where they were attempting to flee the country. Following his arrest, Neville said that he had been infuriated about losing his job at the grocery store where Robinson worked. He said he was unable to find another job. “I would like to kill somebody because I am just pissed off,” he allegedly said to Hall before the duo went out and purchased two .22-caliber rifles from a local pawn shop.
Hall and Neville said they chose Robinson because she trusted them and because they wanted to kill a minority; Robinson was part Native Indian. “She wasn’t exactly white and she was the only one around at the time,” said Neville. Following his arrest, Neville told reporters that he was a white supremacist and that he and Hall had checked out Robinson’s work schedule and then drove along the route she would cycle to work. According to Hall, “she was suffering anyway. So I guess we just gave her a back door.”
When questioned, they laughed throughout the interview as they recollected what they had done. The two men also spoke with a news reporter and said that they had used Robinson for target practise. “My first two shots rang out – one hit her in the chest, and the other hit her in the head. Then he – Michael – picked up his rifle and fired another set of shots into her,” said Neville.2 He said that as Robinson died, “we just busted out laughing.”
Both Neville and Hall grew up in their mothers’ homes and their fathers were not that much involved in their lives. Nevill was a convicted burglar and had been in and out of trouble with the law since a young boy. Hall, on the other hand, had no previous criminal record. Following the arrests, Neville’s mother said that Naville had been a loner as a child and had felt rejected by his father. Much like Neville, Hall too was a loner. He had the mindset of a 10-year-old child and his mother stated that he was bullied throughout his childhood due to his apparent mental impairment.
When Neville and Hall met, Hall’s mother felt like Neville was a bad influence on her son but didn’t want to tell him to stay away from him. “Michael was showing a lot of depression,” she said. “When Robert was around, for a few moments, Michael was like a happy child. I was really torn about taking the only thing he enjoyed away.”3
During their trial, the prosecution showed televised confessions and read a letter from Neville to another inmate. Neville smirked as the jury watched his lurid confession. “We was gonna go out and pick up a couple of guns and stuff like that and go out and shoot and kill a black girl,” he said.4 In the aforementioned letter, Neville bragged that he and Hall were “sociopaths,” adding that it meant that they had “no respect for the people they kill.”
The prosecution presented an avalanche of evidence that showed that Neville had a history of violent and deviant behavior, dating back to his childhood. When he was just 4-years-old, he set numerous fires in Tarrant County. Then as a juvenile. He committed several thefts and in 1988, he was treated at a psychiatric hospital for lying, behavioural problems and the sexual assault on a female relative. Court records showed that Neville’s “bisexual pedophilia” was diagnosed in 1991 and that he had a history of animal abuse and bestiality.5
Hall’s defense lawyer attempted to argue that his client had a low IQ and was borderline mentally disabled. They argued that due to his mental deficiencies, he was susceptible to being influenced by people such as Neville. “I think he’s just mean, sick and selfish,” said Robinson’s father, Ben Grogan. “He’s just trying to save himself.”6
Ultimately, the jury sided with the prosecution and the two men’s unremorseful behaviour sealed their death sentences.
Robert Neville was executed on the 8th of February, 2006. His last words were: “I hope you can find it in yourselves to forgive me and I hope all this here will kind of settle your pain. And I hope the Lord will give you comfort and peace. I just want you to know I am very sorry for what I have done. If I see Amy on the other side, I will tell her how much you love and miss her. And we will have a lot to talk about.”
Michael Wayne Hall was executed on the 15th of February, 2011. His last words were: “I would like to give my sincere apology to Amy’s family. We caused a lot of heartache, grief, pain and suffering, and I am sorry. I know it won’t bring her back. I am sorry for everything. I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.”
- Tallahassee Democrat, 3 December, 1998 – “Target Practice Case Goes to Trial”
- Longview News-Journal, 3 December, 1998 – “Trial Begins in woman’s Torture Slaying”
- The Dallas Morning News, 7 March, 1998 – “It Took the Two of Them Together”
- The Odessa American, 5 December, 1998 – “Neville Found Guilty of Capital Murder”
- Arlington Morning News, 7 December, 1998 – “Neville’s Threat Can Hurt Him”
- The Odessa American, 22 February, 2000 – “Sentencing Phase Delayed in Torture Case”