Lawyer for suspect dubbed ‘Shopping Cart Killer’ in Fairfax Co. seeks gag order on police

The lawyer for a man suspected of killing four women has asked a court to stop the police from using the nickname he’s become known for.

The defense lawyer for Anthony Eugene Robinson has filed a motion in the General District Court for Rockingham County and the City of Harrisonburg, asking the court to order the police to stop referring to his client as “a serial killer” and “the shopping cart killer.” He’s also asking the court to prevent the police in Harrisonburg and Fairfax County from releasing any information on the case to the media without the court’s permission.

Lawyer Louis Nagy’s motion centers around a news conference given by the police chiefs of those two jurisdictions last Dec. 17. Robinson had already been arrested in Harrisonburg and charged with two counts of first-degree murder there, and Fairfax County police said he was connected with two bodies found in shopping carts in the Alexandria section.

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and Harrisonburg Police Chief Kelly Warner, as well as Fairfax County Maj. Ed O’Carroll, repeatedly called Robinson “a serial killer,” with Davis saying Robinson “is called the shopping cart killer.”

Robinson still hasn’t been charged in the Fairfax County deaths, and Nagy said in the motion that he was called by a reporter asking for comment on the “serial killer” characterization before the news conference had even begun – a sign that the police were “already feeding the media terms like ‘serial killer’ before the news conference” in an attempt to prejudice the public.

Throughout the news conference, Davis and O’Carroll do not refer to Robinson as “the accused” or “the suspect,” the motion says – only that Robinson “has killed four already. And we suspect that he has more victims.”

Nagy said in the motion that he’s been contacted by local and national media about the allegation that his client is a serial killer, and the nickname “shopping cart killer” has been all over local media, as well as People magazine, Newsweek, CNN, USA Today, Rolling Stone and more.

He added that the nickname was “specifically designed to ensure that it would be repeated and used by every media outlet in the country,” and said it will compromise Robinson’s ability to get a fair trial and an unbiased jury. He added that a remark made by O’Carroll during the new conference indicated that the police would continue to release “sensitive information.”

Nagy is asking for the Fairfax County and Harrisonburg police departments to be prevented from calling Robinson “a serial killer” or “the shopping cart killer,” and from releasing any information about the case without the court’s permission.

Fairfax County police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement, “Fairfax County has a proven track record of conducting meticulous and methodical criminal investigations to pursue justice for victims and hold offenders accountable. This case is no exception. While the defendant will enjoy the presumption of innocence, the Fairfax County Police Department stands by its criminal investigation and we look forward to presenting our findings in a court of law.”

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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