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Murdered teen’s family asking for public’s help to keep felon behind bars

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The man who brutally murdered Rachel Ann Robertson, 16, in 1991 could be released from prison in November. Robertson’s family is now is shock as convicted murderer David Tinsley has only served 22 years of his initial 50-year sentence.

“They always say it’s someone [whom] you know, usually someone in the family, someone close, and it was,” said Shannon Robertson, Robertson’s sister.

Rachel Ann Robertson was strangled to death by Tinsley, the oldest sister’s ex-boyfriend. The family said he later apologized in court simply saying he was drunk and on drugs the night of the murder.

killerAccording to court documents, Tinsley went to the apartment where his ex-girlfriend lived, but only Rachel was home.

“There was some broken glass and some blood,” said April Gulotta, the victim’s sister and Tinsley’s ex-girlfriend.

Gulotta said she had broken up with Gulotta and was seeing someone else. He had apparently asked her to go out with him at her work, but she denied his request.

“I’m sure they feel like they’ve been slugged in the gut by the system not only because the man didn’t get his just punishment, initially, but also because the legal system is letting him out before he should be let out,” said Larry Sells, the former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor who was assigned to the case.

Sells said the evidence was lacking so Tinsley escaped the death penalty or life behind bars. They would have needed to prove another violent crime was committed.

Tinsley will have served 22 years in November. His earliest possible release date is November 15, 2013. Since his sentence is calculated as 50 years, with day for day credit for good behavior, he starts with a 25-year executed sentence.

According to the Indiana Department of Correction, Tinsley also earned 365 days credit time for completion of an Associate’s Degree in General Arts in 2008 and 730 days credit time for a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies in 2009, which earned him three years of earned credit.

Tinsley had one conduct violation while in prison for tampering or possessing tools to alter locks or devices, for which he served a period of segregation time.

“We can’t keep him forever, unfortunately, but he definitely shouldn’t get out early,” said Sells.

“I saw the pictures of Rachel, of the crime scene. Her body was badly bruised all over,” said Debra Robertson, the victim’s step-mother.

Robertson’s family with the help of her childhood friend, Jason Green, are now collecting signatures for a petition that asks that Tinsley serve more time in prison.

“She used to always say she didn’t want to grow old. She didn’t,” said Gulotta.

“She was just a little tiny thing. She was just a good girl. She was a good girl,” said Shannon Robertson.

Almost all offenders sentenced to the Indiana Department of Corrections can earn credit time against their sentence for completion of certain types of programming, including educational, substance abuse, vocational, and faith and character-based programming, among others.  This is in addition to the good time credit an offender can earn through good behavior. According to state law, the most credit time an offender can earn for programming is four years. Certain ‘credit restricted felons,’ who are typically convicted child molesters, cannot earn any such credit time.

Tinsley was also sentenced to 15 years behind bars for the sexual assault of another woman. He was out on bond at the time of the 1991 murder.


  • paul

    Why was he not convicted and labeled a child molester she was only 16 seems Sells may have messed up he should not of been getting credit time. and did our taxpayer dollars pay for that college education he got

    • Laura

      Paul – he was not convicted and labeled a child molester because (1) no evidence of sex act, (2) even if was evidence of sex act, she was age 16 which is age of consent thus not a child molest. So before you disparage prosecutors Sells, please know the facts and the law. In Indiana, at the time of this crime, the sentence range for murder was 45 to 65 years. This means the most you would serve if you get maximum good time is 32.5 years….even less if you get a taxpayer-funded but useless college degree in General Studies. This is for an intentional killing of a person. Not enough time in my book. The law is messed up. Talk to you legislators about increasing the penalty for murder and "truth in sentencing" laws rather than making it easier to get out of prison. And a petition to keep him behind bars? Won't happen.

      • Shannon

        We have several petitions. One is to stop good time credit for violent offenders. Right now it only applies to child molesters. We believe murders and other violent offenders should not be afforded that luxury Shannon

      • paul

        A person at least eighteen years of age who performs or submits to sexual intercourse or deviate sexual conduct commits sexual misconduct with a minor between 14 and 16 years of age, is guilty of a Class C felony. However, the offense is raised to a Class B felony if it is committed by a person at least twenty-one years of age.Age of Consent in Indiana

  • kent

    You reporters are journalist. Does anyone proof-read your work? There are always typos. Example: "Gulotta said she had broken up with Gulotta and was seeing someone else." Do you mean that she broke up with herself?

  • notadumbgirl

    i think it is a shame that my niece and nephew are paying over 80,000 to go to college , and this scumbag murderer got to go for free , we paid for this scum to get out early , my niece and nephew that are working and going to school helped to fund a college education foe this douche bag , i think there should be NO " good " time , does his victim get to have any more good times , no she dont , her family dont have her anymore , i think he should serve the whole 50 damn years , and i also think that offenders should NOT be able to obtain ANYTHING except for a G.E.D. while locked up , what chance do their victim / victims get to get an education , that was taken away from them , keep his no good ass locked up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • r.redden

      i agree with you. when in prison they should not get anything. period.
      they need to make them get out more and clean the trash from the highways in chains.

    • anon

      I agree with you, too. These convicted felons & murderers are wasting tax dollars on college educations! Especially since most employers do criminal background checks these days, where is he supposed to get a job using his degree? What kind of job will an Associates' Degree in General Arts get a person, anyway?

      I feel so sorry for the family- they have to live every day knowing they will never see Rachel again because he robbed her of her life. I'm so sorry that justice was so poorly served; they deserved better; Rachel deserved better!

    • jjj

      His college degree holds about as much merit as an online Sally Struthers correspondence course. Don't you worry now, he will be mopping floors or taking your order at the drive thru.

  • MelindaG

    This is OUTRAGIOUS!! If it were my child who was murdered, I would absolutely want this guy to serve more then 22 yrs. I signed the families petition!

  • linda hicks

    i pray to GOD that he does not get out early her and my sister were very close and attended the same schools for many yrs into there youth and when she was killed it took a bad turn for all of our youth many struggled thru school that was close to rachel and many quit this was a total disappoitment and rachel will never be forgotten such a beautyiful young girl whos life was taken to soon rip rachel and i pray that mr tinsley stays in prison and has to live with the rest of his life …………………may god be with her family at this time i know i will be sighin a petition because he does not deserve to have the great life of bein free

  • a friends daughter

    i pray that he stays in jail and never gets out he was my aunts best friend and she didnt deserve this i didnt know her but my mom and my aunt have some very good memories of her RIP RACHEL

  • Nora

    Give him every single day he was sentenced!! No ONE deserves to die that way, especially a young adult like that. That so called apology "I am sorry but I was drunk and on drugs" He commits a horrible act not only against this child but her family and friends as well and he still wants to make it all about him? Really?? Where's the remorse? But it really doesn't matter as they use to say "do the crime do the time" No one ever said "do the the crime, do 1/2 the time" I have proudly signed the petition and would like to offer my condolences to the family that has to vividly relieve this nightmare again!

  • notadumbgirl

    i signed it , only thing is , i wish i could sign it all 5000 times , to keep this scum locked up

  • jjj

    He's only 51 years old, still young enough to start a new life on the outside

    They should probably keep him 10 more years or so at least.

  • no name

    So they are letting him walk free while this other Shawn guy in another story gets 270 years for raping a woman….both have done prior crimes and this Tinsley gets to walk after only serving a short time for murder!!!! Great job on the justice system. Both are horrible crimes and both have prior crimes on women…. why let either of them be free to roam…they will both do it again!!! Lock Tinsley up for 270 years!!!!

  • mandy


  • linda robertson

    he raped her ,but somehow the evedince dot lost , how do i prove that , thanks everyone for your comments. her mother, linda robertson

  • Lynda

    I'll sign. No way should someone who did such a thing be released out amongst us after such a short time!!! Mr. Tisdale can teach other inmates now that he has a degree. Let it do him as much good as mine did me…Ya know, I always wanted to be an artist' but in college, did not have the money for materials(We could barely afford me going to college!), and so I never took the courses that I most wanted to take. Another fellow rapes, bludgeons, stabs and chokes my teacher to death. That was when I was in 10th grade. Now he has gotten a degree in Fine Art and is a highly respected painter, and. Nothing personal, I know the incident was alcoholic rage and he really had nothing against my teacher….But still.

  • Shannon

    Thank you on behalf of Rachels family for taking the time out of your busy lives to sign this petition. She is deeply missed as much today as she was 22 years ago.

    Thank you,


    • Nikki Allman

      Shannon, I am sorry for your loss! I made sure to sign the petition and shared it on my page and the Justice page. My big sister, Tabitha Brock, was murdered on the night of May 10, 2012 and burned on the morning of May 11, 2012 in her car. She was 23 years old and her four year old son witnessed her murder. It has been a hard time for my family, but we have strength with the domestic violence awareness community. We are hoping to change laws in Indiana for domestic violence and murderers. My sister's killer was only given 26 years, 2 suspended, but he will be out in 11 years or less. I do not believe this is right or justice for any victim of murder. If you would like to join my family in events we will be holding in memory of homicide victims and to spread awareness to domestic violence please visit the site before. I shared this petition on it. Hopefully that will help get more signatures. Praying for your family.

      God Bless

      • willowvibe

        Im so sorry sweetie 😦 our groups have liked Tabithas page and we are adding a link so people can find u guys 😦
        Thanks for signing! Please let us know if we can help u in your fight against domestic violence. Big hugs, Shannon

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