The Southern California man who once voiced the affable “Peanuts” TV cartoon character Charlie Brown pleaded guilty Tuesday to making criminal threats against the San Diego County sheriff but told a judge his behavior is a result of mental illness.
"I want justice to be served, but I’m mentally ill," Peter Robbins, 59, told a judge in a San Diego courtroom, as he pleaded guilty to charges of making criminal threats. "To stick me three years into a state prison is not benefitting the justice system. I feel I’m entitled to at least a second chance."
According to the prosecutor in this case, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Brenda Daly, Robbins is expected to be sentenced Dec. 7 to four years and eight months in prison.
Robbins, who began his acting career at age 9, was the voice of Charlie Brown for the iconic television specials "A Charlie Brown Christmas,” "It's a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and "A Boy Named Charlie Brown."
Robbins pleaded guilty Tuesday to writing letters from his jail cell threatening San Diego County Sheriff William "Bill" Gore. Authorities said in some letters, Robbins offered to pay $50,000 to have Gore killed.
In a reversal of a previous plea, Robbins also pleaded guilty Tuesday to making threats against the manager of a mobile home park where he once lived. According to Daly, Robbins began sending the manager menacing letters and messages from jail, threatening him and his wife, after the manager testfied against Robbins in court.
Daly said she believes Robbins changed his plea Tuesday because he realized a jury would find him guilty anyway and entering the plea would save time. If found guilty at trial, Robbins would be looking at nine years behind bars, according to Daly.
Robbins said much of his bizarre behavior amid his legal woes can be attributed to mental illness.
"This is what happens when you are bipolar. You behave as if you are on drugs," he said.
The prosecutor acknowledged that a calmer, more subdued Robbins appeared in court Tuesday because Robbins has been taking medication.
"I think he’s decided, too, that he’s not going to perform anymore," Daly said. "He’s just realized that his behavior in the past is really what put him in this position today. His acting out — and his erratic behavior and angry behavior — he realized that’s only going to make him go to prison longer and not serve him very well."
Robbins — known for his outbursts and putting on a show in court — has been in and out of legal trouble for nearly three years.
His legal problems began in January 2013 when Robbins was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro for allegedly threatening and stalking his ex-girlfriend, Shawna Kern, and a La Jolla plastic surgeon, Lori Saltz, who peformed breast-enhancement surgery on Kern.
Robbins pleaded guilty to those charges. In May 2013, Robbins was sentenced to jail time and ordered to enroll in a residential drug treatment program.
He was also sentenced to five years of probation. Shortly after his release from prison, Robbins was arrested again and charged with violating probation. Robbins has been in jail since late February 2015.
On June 5, during what was supposed to be his sentencing for multiple probation violations, an angry Robbins acted out in court with a profanity-laden outburst, yelling at the judge, "I hope you drop dead of a heart attack."
Most recently, on Sept. 25, Robbins was set again to be sentenced for violating probation but was instead charged with four new felony counts, including making criminal threats against the sheriff.