From: Susan Twait
It has been two years since the death of our son and brother Robbie, better known to many as Bazorkie Bob, Whiskey Bob or Orv, depending on when you knew him …
Our family has wanted to share and speak out to the community for a long time but wanted to wait until the trial was over to do so. As we reach the two-year anniversary of this tragedy it seemed to be the right time to express our gratitude and thanks to the Winona community.
We have come to understand that a murder is felt not just by family members and friends but countless others who shared in our sorrow and made sure justice was done on behalf of Robbie, who lost his life, and Sean O’Brian, the other victim in this case who survived his near-fatal injuries.
The Winona County prosecution team consisting of Karin Sonneman, Kevin O’Laughlin, Christina Davenport and Andrew Letourneau spent countless hours building a strong case that led to a conviction of first-degree murder. They treated our family with dignity and respect throughout the case and because of their diligence our family received a guilty verdict. The Victim Services Coordinator Claire Exley helped hold our family together as we navigated the court process with all of its ups and downs. Her compassion for our family and all of the emotions of fear, anger and sadness we expressed was incredible.
The combined efforts of the Winona Police and Winona County Sheriff’s Department along with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension led to a complete and thorough investigation which brought forward the evidence needed for a conviction. To all of the law enforcement personnel and forensic scientists who gathered evidence, investigated and testified in court you should be commended for your work in bringing justice to victims of violent crime, especially those who cannot speak for themselves.
The jurors who sacrificed three weeks of time away from families and jobs to ensure that a just verdict was reached for the victims and the community of Winona — we thank you all.
To the Winona Emergency Medical Services team, to those who called 911, Justin who was the first to render first aid, and the first officers on the scene, our family knows you made every effort to save Robbie’s life and for that we will be forever grateful.
In the midst of the tragedy that unfolded that night we also need to recognize the miracle that Sean did not lose his life also. Regardless of your beliefs there is no doubt that the fact that the surgeon on-call that night had served several tours in Afghanistan and knew how to treat bullet wounds is something bigger than all of us. And lastly, to Sean, Justin and the other witnesses who testified that were in the line of fire — it takes courage and bravery to sit within a few feet of a man who shot at-will with complete disregard for life and speak the truth.
Our family has chosen to define my brother not by the violent, horrific way he died but by the way he lived. Robbie lived life to the fullest. He loved riding his motorcycle, playing bluegrass, attending music festivals and camping with friends, along with his job on the oil fields. He loved returning to Winona on his time off because of the beautiful river, bluffs and surrounding countryside.
Our father Jim remembers all the long conversations he and Robbie would have when he would call from the Alaska Slope where he worked to catch up Winona news and family. Our mother Joan’s favorite memories are of tending her beloved flowers and listening while Robbie played mandolin or guitar on the back porch for hours. My sister Jenny has embraced bluegrass music and attends festivals to carry on Robbie’s legacy of supporting local musicians.
We often feel Robbie’s presence. Such was the case when our mother arrived home the first winter after Robbie’s death to find a package sitting on their doorstep. Inside was a banner signed by all of the men and women who had worked with Robbie on the oil field. It was filled with messages of how hard he had worked, how valuable his knowledge of the industry was and how he had mentored many of them. It brought her such joy … that day just happened to be her birthday!
Not long ago on a beautiful Sunday morning, I looked up at a clear blue sky. Just above me were two planes flying overhead, side by side, one just in front of the other as if giving guidance. It made me think of Robbie and how we would go to the little Winona Airport and watch during his flying lessons when we were kids. I knew in that moment that Robbie was finally at peace …
Many have told me “you only live once.” I don’t believe this is true … I say you live every single moment ...: Robert Johnson the Muse have spoken.