VAN NUYS — A Sherman Oaks man Friday pleaded guilty in the stabbing of a pregnant Toluca Lake woman during a robbery at an automated teller machine, killing both her and the unborn child in a crime that shocked the San Fernando Valley.
Robert Glen Jones, 46, entered the guilty plea to first-degree murder and robbery in the death of Sherri Foreman, 29, who was killed March 30 at an ATM machine at a Sherman Oaks bank.
By pleading guilty, Jones, a prison parolee, effectively saved himself from the possibility of being sentenced to die in the gas chamber had the case gone to trial and he had been convicted of murder with special circumstances.
Prosecutors said Jones will be sentenced Nov. 16 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"You went to an ATM at Woodman Avenue and Riverside Drive in order to get money and you had a knife with you," Deputy Dist. Atty. Phillip H. Rabichow said to Jones. "There was a struggle over the purse, and during that struggle Sherri Foreman got stabbed. Essentially, she died as a result of that. Is that what happened?"
"Yes," Jones replied.
Authorities initially investigated Foreman's death as one in a series of fatal carjackings, but later concluded Foreman's killer wanted only her money and not her 1984 BMW that was parked nearby.
Jones allegedly confessed to both his girlfriend, Libert J. Ellis, and to investigators, but has maintained that Foreman was accidentally stabbed as she struggled over the purse that Jones was trying to take away.
"The circumstances of the case were such . . . that would have been very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill her instead of accidentally killing her during a struggle," Rabichow said, noting that Jones was nevertheless guilty of murder because Foreman died during the course of a felony, in this case robbery.
Foreman's father, Carl (Alex) Foreman, and Foreman's boyfriend, Bobby Brock, struggled to maintain their composure during a short hearing in Van Nuys Superior Court. Brock, who had to leave the courtroom for a short time when he was overcome with emotion, was comforted by Susan Ann Soto, who Jones confronted and asked for money moments before Foreman was attacked and killed.
"This is the kind of thing where words don't really do any justice to describe how you feel inside after something like this, having the loss of somebody like this," Brock said outside court. "So we just have to carry on."
Foreman's family was consulted, prosecutors said, and authorized the plea, which guaranteed that Jones would not be put to death in the gas chamber at San Quentin but that he would never be set free.
"It helps a lot," Carl Foreman said. "This way we all know he won't be back on the street. It's over and done with. It won't be long and drawn out, which makes it hard on everybody in the long run."
Defense attorney Elizabeth Harris said that if the case had gone to trial, Jones would have received at least the same sentence, if not the death penalty.
"He was ready to accept his responsibility," Harris said. "His actions have already caused enough pain."
Evidence and testimony presented at prior hearings showed that Jones was loitering at a Great Western Bank, caught on film by security cameras.
The video--actually a series of still images shot every two seconds--shows Foreman in a Houston Oilers hat looking over her left shoulder toward a parking lot where her BMW was parked. Jones attacked her as she made the short walk from the ATM to her car.