LOCKPORT – A third murder trial has been scheduled for Nov. 3 for Robie J. Drake, whose two previous convictions in a 1981 double slaying in North Tonawanda both were overturned on appeal.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. will preside over the latest trial for Drake, now 49, who shot fellow North Tonawanda High School students Amy Smith and Steven Rosenthal to death as they were in a car in a dark factory parking lot on the night of Dec. 5, 1981. Drake has been in prison ever since.
Drake testified in the second trial in 2010 that he repeatedly fired a rifle into the rusted-out 1969 Chevrolet Nova, but denied knowing there was anyone inside. He said his intent was only to vandalize what he thought was an abandoned car. The jury didn’t believe him.
His first conviction in 1982 was set aside by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals 27 years later because of false testimony by a bogus expert witness who offered his opinion about a psychological condition Drake purportedly had.
The second verdict was thrown out in 2012 by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court because Kloch allowed the use what the appeals court thought was irrelevant and prejudicial evidence about a bite mark on Smith’s breast. Drake never was charged with any sex crime.