Ellis Royster guilty shooting death toddler Amias Robinson - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Dad of toddler fatally shot in stroller: Me and my family, we're hurting

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A Mecklenburg County jury deliberated two hours before finding Ellis Royster guilty of first degree murder by fatally shooting a two-year-old boy while he was in his stroller back in 2010.

Amias Robinson's mother cried and cheered as the verdict was announced.

The toddler's father addressed Royster in court.

"I want you to know that me and my family, we're hurting. My first born, my love, I'm hurt, you've got to live with this and one day I hope you can be a man, and recognize what you did and stop running from it," said Charles Robinson.

Robinson said the verdict marks the beginning of the healing process for his family.

Royster's girlfriend told WBTV she was disappointed in the verdict.

"I'm sorry about the loss, but I just feel like Ellis didn't do it," she said.

Royster's attorney, Richard Tomberlin, says he was disappointed and surprised by the jury's verdict.

He said he will appeal the verdict. Royster was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Royster takes the stand

On Tuesday, Royster took the stand in his own defense.

Royster was charged with the shooting death of Amias Robinson in 2010, during a drug deal in east Charlotte. The 25-year-old claims he didn't do it.

Royster says he was downstairs inside his grandmother's house preparing to smoke weed that he had just bought, when he heard gunshots outside. He says the shots sounded like firecrackers.

He claims he and his family ran to the front door and saw the 2-year-old had been shot outside.

"Once we got to the front door, my grandma was real upset because she was looking down at the baby, and then I looked down and I saw the baby and he was like bleeding real, real bad," said Royster. 

Amias was out with his babysitter riding in his stroller when he was shot twice. He died four days later.

During closing arguments, Royster's attorney told the jury the evidence does not prove Royster fired the fatal shots and he pointed the finger at another man who was at the scene that day.

"You are part of the judicial system as you sit there, you are not someone who is trying to help a family find closure," said Richard Tomberlin, Royster's defense attorney.

But prosecutors say Royster is the killer. Prosecutors say he fired 11 shots aimed at someone in a car, because of a $10 drug deal gone bad.

A witness testified last week that Royster shot at him, but missed on Eastbrook Road. Prosecutors believe a stray bullet from that shooting hit and killed the little boy.

Officers took the stand last week, testifying that they found bullets in Royster's home. They also told jurors they uncovered thousands of phone calls and text messages from his phone.

"Amias Robinson is two years old, he can't duck when he hears the first shot, he can't duck when he hears the second or the 11th  shot. He can't hit the ground like some of those girls did, that's why he's not charged with 11 murders, he hit a defenseless 2 year old little boy," said Jay Ashendorf, assistant district attorney for Mecklenburg County.
 
Another man, Alvin Alexander, was initially charged with Robinson's death. Charges were later dropped when Royster was charged. Alexander was in court last week and questioned about what he saw on the day of the shooting.

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