Roberson guilty of second-degree murder
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – After nearly three days of deliberating, a jury found Ulysses Roberson guilty of second-degree murder in the 1985 killing of his 4-year-old son, Alexander Olive, on Monday morning.
Seated at the defense table, Roberson did not immediately show any emotion after the court clerk read the verdict, but proclaimed his innocence after Judge Suzanne Kingsbury had given final thanks to jurors for serving on the case.
“I did not kill my son,” Roberson told the courtroom.
By finding Roberson guilty of second degree murder, the jury concluded Roberson killed Olive but did not do so in the “willful, deliberate, and premeditated” way that defines first degree murder.
A first degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison, while a second degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 15 years to life.
Roberson is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 6.
Alexander Olive’s mother, Rosemary Olive, was seated in the audience and dabbed tears from her eyes following the reading of the verdict. Several lawyers, courthouse staff, investigators and alternate jurors also attended Monday’s hearing.
Outside the courtroom, Rosemary Olive said the verdict brought closure to a more than two decades-old tragedy.
She profusely thanked everyone involved with the case and said it was her “assignment” to get Ulysses Roberson off the street following the disappearance of Alexander.
“I wish that my son were alive, but I’m very thankful that this man won’t be able to hurt any more people,” Olive said.
Olive asked Hans Uthe, El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney, about the likelihood that Roberson would be paroled. She said she didn’t want to have to think about Roberson any more.
Roberson won’t be eligible for parole for at least a decade and the district attorney’s office will fight any moves to parole him, Uthe said.
Uthe, who has been involved on the case since Rosemary Olive reported her son missing in 1986, said he felt “great” about the verdict.
He complimented prosecutor Patricia Kelliher on the prosecution.
“She put together a wonderful presentation of a very difficult case,” Uthe said.
The length of time that had passed since the killing occurred and the fact that Olive’s body has never been found were two of the trickier aspects surrounding the prosecution.
Kelliher did not to attend the reading of the verdict, reportedly because of Monday’s inclement weather. She was listening on the phone as the verdict was read.
Roberson’s declaration of innocence was a move by a man who has done everything he can to use the system to his advantage, said South Lake Tahoe Police Captain Martin Hewlett, who has worked on the case for more than a decade. Hewlett said he was thankful for Monday’s verdict, a statement echoed by South Lake Tahoe FBI Special Agent Chris Campion, a 13-year veteran of the case.
Most jurors declined to comment about their deliberations while leaving the courthouse on Monday.
Reaching the verdict took longer than expected, but everyone was on the same page during deliberations, said juror Phil Molton.
One female juror, who declined to give her name, said the jury did not have enough evidence to find Roberson guilty of first degree murder.
“We reached the verdict with the evidence we had,” the juror said.
Another female juror, who also declined to identify herself, summed up the feelings of the jurors following the trial, which has lasted more than two months.
“I’d really just like to go home,” she said.
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.