James Robertson, a member of the racist skinhead group Blood & Honour, was trying to finagle his way out of a lengthy prison term for bank robbery when he offered police details of two murders in Tampa. The murders had gone unsolved for years, and police had all but dismissed the case as cold. That was until they met their snitch.
Robertson was one of four men involved in the murders. His hubristic pitch for leniency ultimately was his undoing. On Tuesday, a federal jury convicted him in the 1998 beating deaths of Alfred Williams, 62, and Richard Arseneau, 44 — both homeless men in Tampa. He faces life in prison when sentenced.
“These men had no material goods, no wealth,” prosecutor Lee Bentley said in his closing statements, according to St. Petersburg Times. “They were struggling to survive. This defendant and three of his associates took the only thing these men had left — their lives.”
At the time of the murders, four members of Blood and Honour were on a violent binge on the streets of Tampa as part of a game they called “bum rolling.” Their brutality knew no bounds. Williams was beaten with fists, clubs and a tire iron so savagely that police would find his teeth scattered across the ground. Arseneau was repeatedly hit in the head with an ax. Police also said two others were attacked — one man who saved himself by jumping into a river and another who escaped when a gun pointed at his chest misfired.
Investigators found no evidence linking anyone to the crimes. But according to prosecutors, Robertson in 2003 provided information about his “principal role” in the deaths while trying to clear himself from any involvement. Of course, it didn’t help that three other members of Blood and Honour — Cory Hulse, Kenneth Hoover and Charles Marovskis — had pleaded guilty to charges related to the deaths and were cooperating with authorities.
At the time, the murders further marred the reputation of Blood and Honour, a shadowy international coalition of racist skinhead gangs based in the United Kingdom. According to a federal indictment of Marovskis, members of Blood and Honour in Tampa “considered homeless persons as an inferior class of persons regardless of race. ‘Bum rolling’ was a term used … to describe the activity of targeting and committing acts of violence against homeless persons.”
And how were they rewarded for the attack? One of the assailants, Hoover, told police the members received congratulatory spider web tattoos — a sign of honor in a dishonorable gang.