Roberson mistrial effort denied
November 5, 2009
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury denied a defense motion for a mistrial in the Ulysses Roberson murder case this week.
Prosecutors have charged Roberson with first degree murder in the disappearance of his 4-year-old son – Alexander Olive – from a Tahoe Keys home in late 1985 or early 1986. Olive’s body has never been found.
Roberson’s attorney, Monica Lynch called for the mistrial on Wednesday after key prosecution witness Raj Roberson – Ulysses Roberson’s first wife – made an allusion to Roberson’s criminal history during her testimony.
In 1992, a Washington judge sentenced Roberson to 14 years in prison for the sexual assault of a 13 year-old-girl in his South Seattle apartment, according to an article in The Seattle Times.
The conviction has been ruled inadmissible as evidence in Roberson’s murder trial.
During cross-examination by Lynch, Raj Roberson made reference to the rape conviction by saying Roberson was “on vacation for 13 years.”
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After the jury had been ordered to leave the court room, Lynch contended Roberson had volunteered the information because she is angry at her former husband and is trying to spite him.
El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Patricia Kelliher argued that Lynch’s line of questioning had prompted Roberson to make the allusion.
Although Kingsbury said it appeared that Raj Roberson was growing frustrated during parts of her testimony, she denied Lynch’s motion for a mistrial.
Kingsbury instructed the prosecution team to tell Raj Roberson only to answer the questions she was asked and to not volunteer information.
Also on Wednesday, Raj Roberson testified that she briefly saw Alexander Olive dead in an upstairs bathtub of the Tahoe Keys home after Olive had suffered a beating by Ulysses Roberson. Raj Roberson is the only witness expected to testify that she saw Olive dead.
On Thursday, the jury heard emotional testimony from Raj and Ulysses Robersons’ oldest son, Urenauld.
Urenauld, who now goes by Renauld Jones, testified about the worst beating he received from his parents.
The beating occurred when Jones was 8 years old and the family was living in a house on Mercer Island in Washington state in the mid-1980’s, Jones said.
Although his mother was initially involved in the beating, Jones testified it was Ulysses Roberson who inflicted most of the injuries by repeatedly hitting him with a chair leg.
After the beating, Jones said he escaped and went to a neighbors house.
“I honestly believe I was going to die If I didn’t get out,” Jones said.
Neighbors called police, who removed Jones from the Roberson household and pressed charges against the Roberson’s in connection with the beating.
On Wednesday, Raj Roberson testified she told police she was responsible for the beating because she had become afraid of the man she once loved.
“If I had (Ulysses) locked up, he might come back and hurt the kids,” Roberson said.
During questioning of Jones on Thursday, Kelliher asked Jones why he had decided to testify at his father’s trial.
Jones said he remembered being beaten a child and said he hoped testifying would help ensure his own three children would never have to go through what he did.
He also said he was testifying for his brother.
“I am here because there is a four-year-old boy who has just vanished off the face of the earth,” Jones said.
Jones said that he hoped any details he could provide about his childhood could bring justice for Olive.
“My four-year-old brother deserves that,” Jones said. “He deserves that at the very least.”
Jones said he holds no anger or animosity towards Ulysses Roberson.
On Thursday, Kelliher indicated the prosecution’s case could wrap their case as soon as Tuesday.
The trial resumes on Monday morning.