A 33-year-old Harrah man is being charged in federal court with killing his mother and sister-in-law in April.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington indicted Edward Charles Robinson with two counts of first-degree murder and a single count of assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with the incident at the Brownstown home of his mother, according to a news release Wednesday.
Federal authorities are taking the case because it involved enrolled Native Americans and occurred within the boundaries of the Yakama Nation Reservation.
Robinson was previously charged with aggravated first-degree murder in Yakima County Superior Court, but those charges were dropped without prejudice Wednesday morning, Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said. By dropping the charges without prejudice, prosecutors maintain the right to refile the case if necessary.
Brusic said he and the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office were in discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI about transferring the case to federal jurisdiction.
If convicted, Robinson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in federal prison, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.
Robinson is accused of fatally stabbing Maria Martinez, 50, and Shante Barney, 23, in the home the women shared April 9. Martinez was Robinson’s mother, and Barney was his sister-in-law, court documents said.
Sheriff’s deputies and tribal police called to the home in the 11000 block of Branch Road found Martinez in a pool of blood by the back door and Barney covered in blood on the couch, with Robinson sitting next to her, a probable cause affidavit said.
Both women were pronounced dead at the scene, according to court documents.
Another family member said he saw Martinez bring Robinson back to the house around 4 p.m., and then heard her screaming five minutes later, the documents said. The family member found Robinson standing over Martinez with a folding knife.
The family member said he pulled Barney’s 3-year-old child out of a window before trying to help her, but was forced to retreat and ask a neighbor to call for help, the affidavit said.