Tyrone Robinson: Where is Huey Newton’s Killer Now?

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Huey Newton was a revolutionary African American political activist and co-founder of the Black Panther Party, an organization established in the 1960s to address systemic racial injustice and promote community-based programs. In 1989, Newton was murdered by a man named Tyrone Robinson, who was just 25 years old at the time. Apple TV+’s ‘The Big Cigar’ dramatizes Newton’s life and focuses on the events preceding his death. Robinson’s motivations and subsequent arrest have also been incorporated into the series.

Tyrone Robinson Claimed That He Killed Newton in Self-Defense

A resident of Oakland, California, Tyrone Robinson started down the path of crime from a young age. He had an extensive criminal record with numerous charges and arrests to his name. In 1985, at around 20 years old, he was arrested and convicted of robbery. As the years passed, his descent into the world of crime only deepened, eventually leading him to become a member of the Black Guerrilla Family.

The Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) is a politically motivated prison gang that originated in California in the 1960s. Founded by George Jackson, a prominent member of the Black Panther Party, the BGF was established to promote Black liberation and overthrow the U.S. government. Known for its strict ideological framework, the gang combines elements of Marxism-Leninism with Black nationalist principles. Over the years, the BGF has been involved in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, and violent crime, both inside and outside prison walls. The organization’s deep-seated political roots and militant stance distinguish it from other criminal groups, making it a significant entity in the landscape of American prison gangs.

In 1989, Robinson was out on parole and worked as a foot soldier for the BGF. In the early morning of August 22, 1989, Robinson encountered Huey Newton in front of 1456 9th Street, near the corner of Center Street in the Lower Bottoms section of Oakland, California, and shot him in the head three times before fleeing the scene. To catch the perpetrator and prevent social unrest, the police set up stops near the area. About 14 hours after the murder, Robinson and two other individuals, Mark White and Rodney Jackson, were stopped for running a red light.

The police found guns in their vehicle and booked them on suspicion of being ex-convicts in possession of a firearm. All three were taken to the police station. Initially, the police were not suspicious of any of them being involved in Newton’s murder. However, just three days later, when Robinson was arraigned for the weapon charges, he confessed to the police that he was the man who shot Huey Newton.

Robinson alleged that he had known Newton for about two years and that on the evening before the murder, they had met at a house where Robinson ran a drug dispensation network. He continued with his claims, stating that in the early morning of August 22, the two had an accidental meeting on the street where Newton asked him for free drugs. When Robinson refused, Newton allegedly threatened him with a gun, prompting Robinson to shoot him in self-defense.

The police searched the house Robinson mentioned and found a 9mm pistol, the same type used to kill Newton. However, they did not fully believe Robinson’s story. His self-defense claims seemed dubious, as Newton did not have a gun on him at the time of his death. Prosecutors working on the case believed that Robinson had carried out the killing to gain status within the BGF and climb up the organization’s ranks. He was charged with first-degree murder.

Tyrone Robinson is Serving His Sentence Today

Tyrone Robinson’s trial began in 1991 and, owing to his confession, concluded swiftly. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 32 years. Robinson served 18 years in Alameda County before being transferred to Corcoran State Prison in 2009. From there, he wrote a note claiming his innocence and seeking female companionship and legal counsel. Allegedly, while at Corcoran, Robinson stabbed and killed another inmate, Vincent Quivers, on October 11, 2013.

By 2016, he had been charged with Quivers’ murder and was facing the death penalty. More details about the case have not been made public. In 2023, Robinson applied for parole but was denied for an additional five years. The 60-year-old is currently held at California State Prison in Sacramento, with his next parole hearing scheduled for 2028.

Read More: The Big Cigar’s True Story, Explained