Murder suspect portrayed as vicious in treatment of his women, children
Ulysses Roberson placed a handgun at the stomach of the main woman in his polygamist circle to calm her after stating he killed his 4-year-old son, a South Lake Tahoe police officer testified Thursday.
Roberson, 54, could face the death penalty for the alleged 1985 murder of his son in a Tahoe Keys home despite the prosecution not finding the body. The two-day preliminary hearing at El Dorado County Superior Court in South Lake Tahoe wrapped up Thursday. A judge will determine if enough evidence exists to send the case to trial.
Lt. Martin Hewlett, the lead detective on the case since 1996, testified Roberson threatened his primary woman, Raj Roberson, to keep quiet after she learned of Alexander Olive’s death.
“I’ll blow you and everyone else away,” Hewlett said, relaying the threat Roberson gave Raj.
Later, Raj spotted Roberson kneeling in front of an upstairs bathtub that held Alexander, authorities said.
“She stated (Alexander) was floating in the bathtub dead and she was in shock and Ulysses kept yelling at her to get the (expletive) out,” said Vicki Anderson, special agent for the FBI.
Roberson then packaged Alexander’s body in a box, rustled all but one child out of bed and filed them into a van, Hewlett said. Raj, who was pregnant at the time, was ordered by Roberson not to look where they drove. She reclined her passenger chair.
The van made four stops before returning to the group’s house along the 2100 block of Monterey Drive in the Tahoe Keys, Hewlett said.
Alexander was never seen again.
Ken Bonham, deputy public defender, picked on testimony that Alexander was standing and his legs were moving after being beaten, possibly fatally, with a piece of wood in the house’s garage. He also questioned when the case turned into a homicide investigation.
The hearing acknowledged Proposition 115, which allows law enforcement to testify on their interviews with victims so victims won’t have to face the accuser. It made Bonham’s task to defend his client difficult by not being able to question witnesses directly.
Wednesday’s testimony told of the control Roberson exerted over his women and details of the alleged murder involving a naked Alexander, a piece of wood and a cold garage. Thursday’s hearing focused on events after the alleged killing and tales of the torture of his children.
The children were taught to distrust law enforcement and white people, authorities said. One child, now an adult, fears swimming after Roberson dunked his head in bath water for extensive periods, according to testimony.
Anderson, who works in the Cleveland FBI office, spoke of her recent interviews with three of Roberson’s children. Despite having birth names, Roberson gave them Muslim names. Alexander was called Salaam.
One child, Urenauld, whose birth name is Renauld, was beaten in similar fashion by Roberson in the basement of a Washington home, Anderson said. Roberson used a toilet plunger stick to strike Urenauld. After the punishment the child ran away from the house and fell into the hands of child protective services, she said.
The children would steal food, which would lead to punishment that included starvation in a dark closet, Anderson said. When they were released, they would often steal food again and the cycle would continue.
Urenauld was beaten so badly that every time he had bruises he’d miss school, the agent said. So many classes were missed that fifth-grade was the first school year he completed.
Alexander bore the brunt of punishment. Roberson singled him out because of his speech impediment, white skin, small size and habit of wetting himself, authorities said. Most if not all the children were not toilet trained.
YewAur, whose real name is Michael, once became sick to his stomach after seeing Alexander’s face covered in blood after a beating, Anderson said.
Another time the children were playing a game when Roberson picked Alexander up by the one ankle, called him a little white child and struck him with a belt, Anderson said.
Judge Suzanne Kingsbury will make a ruling on whether to continue on July 30 after both sides submit briefs on the special circumstances of the alleged murder including torture and racial bias.
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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