‘He’s killing her’ — Court documents describe stabbing outside Kentucky soup kitchen

Published 5:55 am Friday, June 25, 2021

“I guess I am needed.”

Those were the last words a witness heard Robin Jones, kitchen manager at ACCESS Soup Kitchen and Men’s Shelter, say on the morning of Nov. 10, before she was stabbed to death.

It was shortly before 9:30 a.m. Jones, 56, had just shared a mid-morning smoke break with friends and was heading back into the building to help with meal prep when she encountered Clifton Sapp, who had been a client at the shelter for several months.

“After she made the statement, Clifton raised his arm and violently ‘fast as hell’ started stabbing Robin,” said Adam McKane, who was inside near the kitchen opening bags of chips and getting dessert trays ready.

He told police he saw Sapp stab Jones two or three times and started screaming “he’s killing her” before kicking open the back door to alert officers across West Second Street at the police station.

A second witness who was wrapping silverware in the dayroom at the time of the incident, said Sapp and Jones were in between the two entry doors to the shelter.

According to the witness, Jones’ feet were up against the dayroom door preventing him from getting to her to help.

“Clinton kept on stabbing Robin,” the witness explained, adding she never made it through the second door into the dayroom.

One of the men who moments earlier had been smoking a cigarette with Jones outside, said he saw McKane running out from behind the building shouting “he’s stabbing Miss Robin.”

The witness told authorities he opened the front door to the shelter and Sapp had Jones by the pants and “was pulling her out the door by her belt loops.” He said he attempted to get Sapp off Jones, but Sapp gave him an elbow, pushed him into the street and just kept dragging her to the sidewalk.

A second man who was also conversing with Jones during her smoke break and was outside the shelter at the time of the stabbing, witnessed Sapp drag Jones out the front door with one hand and had a butcher knife covered in blood.

“Clifton was standing over top of Robin with the butcher knife,” he stated.

By this time, McKane had run into the police station lobby to alert first responders and Sapp was walking across Second Street as well. Frankfort Police Sgt. Shane Music was the first officer to arrive on the scene.

In his report, Music said he could see blood on Sapp’s clothes and told him to put his hands in the air. Sapp failed to follow his instructions and kept walking toward him. Music asked where the knife was and reported that Sapp was yelling incoherently.

“I could see the subject did not have a knife in his hands. I pulled my Taser and deployed my first cartridge,” Music explained. “I could instantly see the first deployment was not effective and deployed a second.

“…when the subject hit the ground a large butcher knife fell out of his back pocket.”

Music and two other officers eventually restrained Sapp, who actively resisted being handcuffed, and then Music went to help Jones, who was having CPR performed on her by Frankfort Fire EMTs.

Officer Jeff Roberts, who was just leaving the police station when the call for assistance was put out, said when he got to Jones she was laying motionless in front of the soup kitchen’s main door.

“She was covered in blood from head to toe with her face facing the main door of the building,” he told investigators.

Roberts said when he and Music opened the front door he noticed “a large amount of blood puddles and smears between the outer door and secondary door.”

Franklin County Coroner Will Harrod pronounced Jones, who spent the past five years coordinating the shelter’s mission program and organizing daily meal prep for 60-110 people, dead at the scene at 10:09 a.m.

James Barnett, ACCESS executive director, described Jones, who had worked and volunteered at the facility for more than 10 years, as more than an employee or someone who served a meal.

“She was family to hundreds of people that came in to eat and men who stayed in the shelter,” Barnett wrote on the shelter’s Facebook page soon after her death.

“She gave freely of herself to everyone no matter their background, only caring about how she could help them and improve their lives. I watched her take shoes off her feet and winter coats off her back and give them to people she had just met because they were in need. She showed God’s love to everyone, through deeds and not words.”

Jones, a Frankfort native, graduated from Franklin County High School and attended Kentucky State University. She previously worked for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and is survived by a son, Zachary White, and a sister, Lisa Green.

Sapp, 40, was arrested and charged with murder, a capital offense; resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor; and disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is currently being held in the Franklin County Regional Jail on a $250,000 full-cash bond.

The case had been stalled in Franklin County Circuit Court while Sapp’s out-of-state medical records are being obtained.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said the records were needed for an in-patient examination of Sapp at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in LaGrange.

According to court records, Sapp has a history of mental health issues and was treated in both Kentucky and New York. The court order states that he has medical records from Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg, N.Y.; New York Department of Corrections and Community Control; the New York Office of Mental Health; and local providers in Mt. Vernon and Bronx, N.Y.

Sapp’s attorney Nathan Goodrich noted that competency and criminal responsibility will be a crucial component in this case.

On May 25, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued an order for Sapp to receive an evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial; meets the criteria of insanity; and/or suffers from a mental illness or intellectual disability. The psychiatric examination will also recommend a type of treatment or facility for the above conditions, including medication, counseling, therapy, psychotherapy or professional services, and decide whether Sapp “lacked substantial capacity to either appreciate the criminality or his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law” during the time he allegedly committed the stabbing.

Cleveland said that Sapp was still being held in the local jail and he has not yet been notified that a bed is available at the psychiatric center.

“With the COVID virus backlog, it’ll be a while before we try him anyway,” Cleveland told The State Journal on Thursday. “I think we have seven or eight trials ahead of him.”