Stamford man convicted of murdering 93-year-old woman
STAMFORD — A jury has convicted a city man who was charged with murdering a 93-year-old woman during a home invasion in September 2019.
The 12-person jury unanimously found Robert Simmons, 54, guilty of murder, felony murder, home invasion and burglary in the first degree. The announcement of the verdict Friday caused some in the courtroom’s gallery to gasp and break into tears.
“We feel this is a just verdict,” Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Moran said in a statement after the decision. “We thank the jury for their time and careful consideration of the evidence. Hopefully, this can bring some closure to the victim’s family.”
Simmons is scheduled to be sentenced April 25.
In her closing argument Thursday, Moran said there was “only one person” who went into 93-year-old Isabella Mehner’s house the day she was killed.
That “one person” walked out eight minutes later after having struck Mehner “over and over and over again” on the head and leaving her dead at the foot of her basement stairs, where she would be discovered by her daughter hours later.
“That one person is Robert Simmons,” Moran said.
Moran pointed to the DNA evidence in the case — Mehner’s DNA was found on Simmons’s jeans, and his DNA was found underneath Mehner’s finger nail — as proof of his guilt.
A “guilty conscience,” Moran said, manifested itself in three interviews Simmons had with the police where he repeatedly changed his story.
Criminal defense attorney Kevin Black, who represents Simmons, claimed his client’s inconsistent statements were borne of fear, not guilt.
Black contended that Simmons’ arrest was the result of “tunnel vision” by Stamford police investigators. He asserted that police didn’t investigate other possible suspects in the homicide, despite a third set of fingerprints found on the supposed murder weapon — a hammer discovered at the scene — and a jewelry box that was believed to have been rifled during the alleged home invasion.
Police claimed in an arrest warrant that Simmons specifically targeted Mehner, whom he had done work for in the past. Simmons was living in a homeless shelter at the time of his arrest.
When she was found, Mehner was missing her wedding and engagement rings. Police still have not recovered them.