Examination continues in 20-year-old murder case | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Examination continues in 20-year-old murder case

William Ferchland

The meandering and entangled case of accused murderer Ulysses Roberson inched forward Wednesday as the prosecution and defense argued whether his rights to speedy legal proceedings were violated.

In continuing a hearing from June, five witnesses – a memory expert, a Washington attorney, an FBI agent, a retired police commander and a police lieutenant – were called to the stand at El Dorado County Superior Court.

Roberson has been in jail without bail after being extradited in 2003 from Washington state on charges he killed his 4-year-old son, Alexander Olive, in a Tahoe Keys home more than 20 years ago.

Since the hearing was continued a third time to Friday at 1:30 p.m., Judge Suzanne Kingsbury had yet to determine whether delays in the case are justified or if Roberson has been denied rights to a quick trial.

Roberson’s attorney, deputy public defender Ken Bonham, brought Dr. Deborah Davis, a psychology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, back to the stand. Davis continued her testimony regarding memory, including the effects of a long delay in summoning recollections, modes of questioning to elicit memories and children as witnesses.

Roberson reportedly used astrology to lure women into his clan and was the head of a large household in the Tahoe Keys. Throughout the investigation witnesses have been asked to provide information regarding Alexander’s disappearance.

Some were unhelpful until a few years ago, testified Rich McGuffin, a retired commander of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. Eventually key witnesses, including Raj Roberson and Pam Lewis, integral women in the Roberson clan, talked to authorities, helping to break the case open and leading to the prosecution of Roberson in South Lake Tahoe.

“I was very surprised at the lack of cooperation we had from a number of witnesses,” McGuffin said.

Although the body has not been found, authorities contend Roberson killed Alexander and left him in a garage before dumping the child’s body in an unknown location.

El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe prodded law enforcement officials, who testified they continuously worked on the case.

“It was not a passive investigation,” testified South Lake Tahoe police Lt. Martin Hewlett, who has led the investigation since 1996. “It was an ongoing, aggressive investigation.”

Once Bonham questioned Davis, who agreed, if people’s memories could be affected by various experiences during a 20-year span.

Along the same lines, Bonham believed prejudicial questioning of Raj Roberson influenced the woman’s answers to the satisfaction of authorities.

After a few rounds of arguments by both sides, Kingsbury ruled the issue was outside the scope of the hearing and could be filed as a motion in the future.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.