Adrian Robles leaves the courtroom after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Robert Simpson

Paul Wellman

Adrian Robles leaves the courtroom after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Robert Simpson

Adrian Robles Found Guilty

Convicted of First Degree Murder; Will Be Sentenced to Life Without Parole

Originally published 12:30 p.m., December 17, 2012
Updated 5:00 p.m., December 17, 2012
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After a nearly six-week trial — but after only a few hours of deliberation — a Santa Barbara jury found Adrian Robles guilty of first degree murder for the stabbing death of Robert Simpson in April 2010 at Hendry’s Beach. He’ll be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at a future hearing.

Robles, dressed in a black suit with a red tie and wearing his long hair in a ponytail that partially covered the tattoos that helped identify him, sat stoically as the verdict was read. His mother, who had been present for most of the trial, burst into tears behind him. Simpson’s mother hadn’t yet arrived from her Santa Ynez home and missed the reading.

The judgment came after dozens of witnesses took the stand to tell their versions of what happened that day. Some were high at the time, some were drunk, a few were involved, others weren’t. Some witnesses saw exactly what happened, while others just caught glimpses of the incident.

But the jurors — who deliberated briefly Friday afternoon and for a few hours Monday morning — pieced together the testimony, deciding that Robles stabbed Simpson once in the neck, only a minute or two after Simpson fought Robles’s friend Rudy Gallegos. “From a position of advantage, he intended and did make a surprise attack on Mr. Simpson,” prosecutor Hilary Dozer told the jury during closing arguments.

Adrian Robles and his defense attorney Steve Balash listen to the jury convict him of first-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Robert Simpson
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Adrian Robles and his defense attorney Steve Balash listen to the jury convict him of first-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Robert Simpson

Gallegos’s testimony was critical to the prosecution’s case. After the verdict, Dozer called Gallegos an “indispensable part of the prosecution of this case. … He followed through on his commitment from the beginning with law enforcement,” Dozer said. “Rudy Gallegos is getting on with his life, and I wish him well.”

A self-described former gang member, Gallegos told the jury how, following a disagreement, he and Simpson fought in the grassy area near the Hendry’s Beach parking lot. Simpson won the fight and broke it off. The two men stood up, shook hands, and went their separate ways, Gallegos said. Following that, Robles came up from behind and stabbed Simpson as he walked off, Gallegos said. Dozer said the gang mentality forced Robles to respond to Simpson to gain respect for the gang.

In his closing arguments Friday, Dozer told the jurors Gallegos had an internal dilemma, going back and forth between his allegiance to the gang, his allegiance to his friend, and doing the right thing. But eventually he came around, Dozer said, and did something “totally, totally against the gang creed,” not only talking to authorities but also testifying in court.

Defense attorney Steve Balash also said Gallegos’s testimony was central to the case. “Throw out Gallegos’s testimony, you really don’t have much of a case at all,” Balash said. Maybe his client did do the crime, Balash said, but there were too many unknowns. “My concern is to protect his rights,” he said.

Several witnesses corroborated at least parts of Gallegos’s testimony. Some told the jury they couldn’t remember who the stabber was but could say it was one of two Hispanic men in the grassy area that day. More than one witness told the jury that the man who stabbed Simpson was not the same person who had fought him earlier.

Adrian Robles leaves the courtroom after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Robert Simpson
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Adrian Robles leaves the courtroom after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Robert Simpson

Some described “spiderweb tattoos” and the suspect running off with two girls. Robles has spiderweb-like tattoos on his neck and head, and witness testimony indicated it was likely Robles, not Gallegos, who ran away with the two girls. Gallegos was picked up in the car minutes later.

Post-verdict, the jurors were escorted out of the courtroom before the audience was allowed to leave, and none were available for comment. But two alternate jurors, who weren’t present for the deliberation, were in the audience for the reading of the verdict. While one said he would’ve reached the same conclusion as the jury, the other said there was a lot of “Swiss cheesy” evidence. They both found portions of Gallegos’s testimony trustworthy but other parts of of it not as believable. However, as one of them pointed out, “There was nobody that really refuted what Rudy Gallegos said.”

Perhaps most damning was evidence of blood found on the hood of getaway driver Brittany Weiler’s vehicle, in close proximity to a handprint of Robles. Dozer said there was no explanation how the victim’s blood could get on the car that close to the palm print, he said, calling it the “calling card of the defendant.”

Dozer said there was very compelling evidence that the defendant was the murderer. “I was confident they’d come to the correct decision,” he said. “As the evidence was presented to them, it became clearer and clearer who the killer was.”

Over the weeks, jurors heard from dozens of witnesses, ranging from Simpson’s friends who saw the stabbing and events leading up to it, to doctors, to police officers.

Missing from the witness stand were Vanessa Ochoa and Brittany Weiler, the two women who rode in the getaway vehicle with Robles and Gallegos. Both women were charged with crimes. Ochoa’s case was resolved in juvenile court, while Weiler pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after the fact. She received probation.

Defense attorney Steve Balash questioned how quickly the jury came to their conclusion. “A verdict this quick?” he asked. “They couldn’t have reviewed very much of the evidence.”

He suggested perhaps the upcoming holidays might have led to a hasty decision. He said he would be going back to review the evidence and will be filing a motion for a new trial.

During closing arguments, Balash said conflicting testimony from witnesses were too much to overcome to find a guilty verdict. “This case is bound to leave you in a sense of frustration,” he said, adding that there would have to be a lot of evidence ignored for the case to have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

In addition to the murder charge, which carries with it gang and weapon enhancements, Robles was found guilty of participating in a criminal street gang.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

To the jury: It was a long, emotional case. Good job on staying focused and delivering the guilty verdict. Thank you for your service!!!

GandG (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 1:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hilary Dozer remains on my very short list of local officials that do a very good job for this county.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 5:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

" He (Balash) said he would be going back to review the evidence, and will be filing a motion for a new trial ."
Really ? A criminal defense attorney so callous as to put the victims family through a re-trial , effectively victimizing them once again. That stinks!

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 5:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

On the positive side, Robles may become famous by having his name used as the definition of "loser." What an idiot to think that something as ultimately unimportant and stupid as the honor of his gang was worth spending the next 50 years in prison, where he will never again smell or touch a woman, never walk on the beach, never taste steak fresh off the barbeque, never see his child grow to adulthood. What an idiot.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 7:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't be ignorant, this wasn't committed to benefit his gang, this was about foolish pride and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Why would they gang bang on this guy? What would it benefit his gang? The victim wasn't a high ranking member of a rival gang, and considering the circumstance which made this into a murder case, there was no predmeditation, just some bad times with bad people.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 8:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well az2sb, I cannot deny being ignorant, there is so much I do not know. What I do know is that stabbing an unarmed man is an evil act of cowardice, stupidity, and murder, for which he will now spend the rest of his life in prison. Ironically, his status in prison will probably depend on the narative that the murder was committed in defense of the gang, whether or not it was. There is no defense for this idiot and nobody should offer one.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 8:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well done to the DA's office. I hope this loser rots in hell. Now, maybe Simpson's mom can go after the County and force them to change the alcohol policy at the beach before anyone else gets killed out there. It's not a safe place for families anymore in the evenings with all the drunks hanging around. This sad event could have been prevented.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 9:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Certainly, the gang enhancement is a little hard to understand, but the premeditation is not. The fight with Gallegos was over and this young thug, not involved in the fight which his gang buddy Gallegos lost, ran up with a knife and cut the throat of twice-older man, Simpson, who had put down Gallegos and then let him go.

Robles had the chance to think about what he was doing and that was the premeditation. What's hard to understand is why the "accessories" who drove him away to Ventura got off scot free. Too bad Robles didn't think enough about what he was about to do and not do it. Indeed, he has no defense.

at_large (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 9:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Six weeks isn't enough time to review evidence?'ve got to be kidding. Oh that's right, you're Steve Balash.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 9:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

AZ and Eck, I think it is probably a bit of both... gang pride and ignorance, oh and don't forget a small dose of crappy parenting that was likely involved. Purely conjecture on my part, but hey 1 plus 1 is 2 and freedom of the press right? So sad that the guy let the other up to say uncle instead of abusing him, and then Robles has to run up and stab him in the back (of the neck). Hopefully this will serve as impetus to be proactive in handling the gang situation before they start acquiring guns and innocent bystanders start taking shrapnel.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 9:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It could be both, but look at the age of the guy, did you expect a mature reaction? And I might be looking at this wrong but this case and the Vargas case are similar to me. What I don't understand is, what is the right reaction to a violent drunk attacking you? Should you not fight back because the person is drunk or is it okay to fight back? I've brought it up a couple of times but my comment is always erased. I know that there are victims in this case, but I also see that the victims also brought it upon themselves when they thought it was okay to attack another person.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 2:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To add to AZ2SB's comment, the reason I've avoided alcohol and places where it is prevalent isn't because I'm some holier-than-thou type but because of my survival instinct. My odds of getting sucked into a fight where I could end up dead are far greater if I'm in close proximity to a bunch of drunk people.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 3:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

AZ2SB, you asked, "What I don't understand is, what is the right reaction to a violent drunk attacking you? Should you not fight back because the person is drunk or is it okay to fight back?" In this case, no one was a violent drunk. Apparently Simpson and Gallegos tangled, Simpson, although more than 20 years older, came out ahead; both men shook hands and moved off ... and then Robles ran up and stabbed Simpson from behind.

I would think the answer to your question would be to respond to an attack but your question is not relevant to this case, except apparently all had been drinking. (Had Robles? It wasn't said and he put on no defense.)

As for the victims in this, they're the family members of Simpson - and Robles; and, of course, Simpson. Is a life sentence without parole the right sentence? I think not, even as the act, the crime was heinous. It was premeditated within the legal meaning of the term but it most certainly was not a thought-out act.

at_large (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 4:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Justice in Santa Barbara County is Hilary Dozer intentionally convicting an innocent person of murder. Dozer refused to acknowledge a jailhouse confession during discovery in Efren Cruz's trial for a gang-related murder in Lot 10 in 1999. (Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves & Mike McGrew were 2 of the SBPD officers testifying.)
After serving 4 years, Cruz won his appeal in Ventura County, after Dozer essentially had a tantrum (according to Ventura DA Kevin De Noce) when ordered to produce this evidence during trial.
DA Joyce Dudley promoted Dozer to Assistant DA around a year ago (bigger pension for his recently announced retirement).
Efren Cruz is now a married, employed college graduate with one child.
Then there's Kasi Beutel...

14noscams (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 8:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

AZ, all Simpson did was defend himself and with minimum force since he did not maim his attacker, which he had the right to do. He simply asserted physical control and then offered the peaceful gesture of a handshake. Robles then snuck up behind Simpson and attacked an unarmed man with a knife. Robles was not defending himself. Perhaps he was defending the honor of his gang, but that is not a defense for murder. The only thing Simpson may have done wrong was to confront a drunk for being obnoxious. Once attacked he acted much more humanely than I would have. Gallegos should consider himself lucky that he did not end up with a broken knee. I suspect Robles would not have been any more successful face to face which is why he had to resort to a cowardly sneek attack. Life in prison is a good punishment for this loser. I imagine the time goes by very slowly, it may seem like two life times. The best thing is that we never have to wonder if we will see him at the beach. His beach days are over forever.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 8:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

(This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of use policy.)

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 9:03 p.m.

According to the articles, it was Simpson who started the fight.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 7:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Have fun in your new home. Be sure to send us all postcards once in awhile about the fun you're having being utterly forgotten for your murderous actions. :-)

Draxor (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 12:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

14noscams--Nail on the head!
It's all politics and Justice is only a secondary concern. Doofus Dudley and her minions are only after one thing: professional advancement and building up that pension base. Prosecuting questionable fact situations, suborning perjury by leveraging co-defendants against one another, supporting only those judges who quietly acquiesce to their bidding, all while ruining the lives of young people (and their families) who are caught up in questionable allegations by law enforcement organizations who work harder to protect their own political power in this county than they do to preserve public safety, all while managing a county jail as though it were a pre-Reformation French dungeon... half the criminals in this town don't wear jailhouse jumpsuits: they wear lawyers' little tweed Streisand-era power suits or baggy Men's Wearhouse shiny suits while belching their way through cases with foregone conclusions.

The only solution in SB: be a celebrity. Then, if you're arrested and charged, you just jump bail until the DA has a chance to realize how unpopular it would be to prosecute you. Case in point: Koa Misi, NFL football star, guilty of Battery with Great Bodily Injury (punishable by 3-5 years in state prison), Burglary (another felony), False Imprisonment, etc. etc., etc. Oh...and let's not forget the Failure to Appear (bail jumping)...all of which totaled to a sentence of NO JAIL time while a prior-adjudicated case in the same courthouse earned a young man who had the temerity to defend himself both in a fight where he was being robbed...and in court where the judge had trouble keeping his eyes open...a sentence of nearly 10 full years in state prison. But...that guy wasn't a celebrity, so screw him (and his family and his kids). The DA needed her win, and she did whatever it took to get it.
Be a celebrity or donate to the right campaign. Otherwise, don't make any rolling stops (Kasi Beutel indeed!)...

Beachgirl77 (anonymous profile)
December 22, 2012 at 11:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The defense attorney is a loser too. He should have pleaded the case out. Saved the money and received for his client a more lenient sentence. Doesn't he watch Law and Order SVU?
Oh I forgot, lawyers are typically egotistical and dishonest. Or so I found after dealing with them. Also, they fear doing the right thing to avoid upsetting judges and earning less money.

khiggler (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 10:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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