When 8-year-old Hiawayi Robinson’s body was found Sept. 18 in Prichard, she was lying on her back and the lower part of her body was unclothed.
A city public works employee found Hiawayi, who had been reported missing Sept. 16, along Rebel Road. Underneath and next to the body was trash.
Hiawayi’s right arm was bent at the elbow. Her left arm was at a 45-degree angle, and her wrist was on top of a wooden cross that just happened to be in the debris, said Agent Deric Taylor of the State Bureau of Investigations.
Hiawayi’s Hello Kitty T-shirt was pulled up above her navel. Her right leg was extended outward, and her left leg was bent at the knee, Taylor said.
“The purple shorts as well as the underwear that she was wearing were pulled off the right leg and were just hanging on the left leg basically where the knee is,” Taylor said Monday during a hearing that lasted more than an hour.
The new details about Hiawayi’s death and the murder case against her father, Hiawatha Robinson, 38, were revealed during a preliminary hearing in Mobile County District Court Judge Joe Basenberg’s courtroom. After hearing two law officers testify, the judge ruled a grand jury should hear the case.
Hiawayi’s maternal relatives sat on a front-row bench in the courtroom silently crying as Taylor described Hiawayi’s body. One family member was so overcome with emotion she rushed out of the courtroom during the testimony.
“It was the first time they had heard a graphic description of how she was found and the position of her body,” Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said after Monday’s hearing. “So it was extremely hard for them today.”
Hiawatha Robinson, who is being held at Mobile County Metro Jail on a bail of $500,000, is charged with felony murder and first-degree sodomy. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office believes Hiawayi died during a sexual assault.
An anal swab tested positive for seminal fluid, but the swab was contaminated, Taylor said. Taylor said DNA testing could not be performed on the swab.
Taylor also said during the hearing that Hiawayi’s death has been ruled a homicide, but “the exact mechanism of the death is unknown.”
Hiawatha Robinson, dressed in blue jail garb and his hands and feet shackled, didn’t speak during the hearing. He stood at a podium next to his attorney, Jeff Deen, who questioned the officers who testified.
“They don’t have any DNA connecting him to the case,” Deen said. “They have some circumstantial evidence. The people that I’ve talked to that seem to just come up to me, that seem to know Hiawatha, they can’t believe that he would be involved in something like this.”
Hiawayi went to school the day she disappeared. She returned to St. Stephens Woods Apartments, 3425 St. Stephens Road, where she lived, at 3:30 p.m.
When Hiawayi arrived home, she changed clothes because she was wet from rain. She received a call from her father that lasted 17 minutes, Taylor said.
After the call, Hiawayi told her grandmother, Brenda Populus, she was going to meet her father at her cousin’s apartment because her father was going to give her $150 for her birthday, Taylor said.
Hiawayi’s cousin also lives at St. Stephens Woods Apartments.
When police talked to Hiawayi’s cousin, she said she was not home during the time that Hiawayi would have come to her apartment, Prichard Police Department Sgt. Robert Martin said.
Hiawayi never returned home. Populus reported her granddaughter missing to the Prichard police shortly after 10 p.m. Sept. 16.
Hiawayi was found about noon Sept. 18 a little more than a mile from her home.
Taylor said the area where Hiawayi was found is an area that is overgrown with grass and is used as a dumping ground for garbage, including appliances.
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