GRETNA, La. A New Orleans resident embroiled in a family dispute over the heirship of Barq's root beer has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault charges stemming from an armed stand-off at a mental hospital last September.
Brad Robinson, 56, a disabled war veteran who has been mixed up in more than his share of legal fights over the years, apparently snapped when he was dealt a crushing defeat in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. He had been battling with his cousin, Baton Rouge attorney Hansel Harlan, over Robinson's late father's erstwhile share of Barq's Beverages and the former bottling facilities in Mid-City.
When Robinson lost a key decision Sept. 20, 2013, against Harlan in downtown New Orleans, one that would allow Harlan to collect a $100,000 judgment from Robinson, Robinson allegedly mowed Harlan down with his truck while the attorney was trying to cross Poydras Street on foot. Police reports and witness statements say that a truck matching the description of Robinson's ran over Harlan and then sped away.
With the prospect of losing his home on Panola Street, Robinson then drove to River Oaks mental hospital in Jefferson Parish and put a gun to his own head, police records and court documents say. A police report says Robinson put the gun in his own mouth, but also pointed it briefly at a counselor who was trying to help him.
A SWAT team showed up and arrested Robinson. The counselor, Christopher Howard, did not want to press charges and a terrorizing charge was dropped. But when the New Orleans Police Department later charged Robinson with attempted murder for allegedly running over Harlan, Jefferson Parish officials issued the aggravated assault charge for the incident at the mental hospital.
Robinson's attorney, Gerald DeSalvo, said Robinson didn't threaten anyone except himself. He also wondered why NOPD would charge him with attempted murder.
'Kids shoot somebody in New Orleans and when the police find out the victim isn't dying, they charge the shooter with aggravated battery,' DeSalvo said. 'But if you hit a lawyer with a car, it's attempted murder? I don't get that.'
Robinson pleaded not guilty to the Jefferson Parish aggravated assault charge in March, but agreed to a plea deal this week that gives him a five year suspended sentence, with two years active probation and three years inactive probation. He was also ordered to undergo psychiatric and drug abuse evaluation and treatment.
He remains in Orleans Parish Prison on the attempted murder charge.