Roberson sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, may see parole board sooner
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – An El Dorado County Superior Court judge sentenced convicted child killer Ulysses Roberson to 15 years to life in state prison during a hearing in South Lake Tahoe on Wednesday afternoon.
A 12-member jury found Roberson guilty of second-degree murder last month for killing his four-year-old son, Alexander “Salaam” Olive, in a Tahoe Keys home sometime in late December 1985. Olive’s body has never been found.
The mandated 15 years to life sentence is appropriate for a man who created a “tsunami” of pain and destruction that continues today, Judge Suzanne Kingsbury said during Wednesday’s hearing.
“This is a gentleman who deserves to be locked up for the rest of his life,” Kingsbury said.
Prior to sentencing, Ulysses Roberson maintained his innocence in the murder of Olive.
“I think Rosemary (Olive’s mother) simply got caught up in the media and the attention,” Roberson said.
Prosecution testimony from several women who painted Roberson as a manipulative abuser was the product of jilted ex-lovers, Roberson contended.
“They knew nothing of me except for brief pleasure,” Roberson said.
He also questioned the memory of two of his sons who testified for the prosecution.
“I have never heard such a well delivered pack of lies,” Roberson said.
Roberson obliquely apologized to “people he had hurt,” but maintained his innocence in the murder of Olive.
“I did not kill my son, that’s basically what I want to say,” Roberson said.
Following Roberson’s statement, Rosemary Olive addressed the court, which was nearly full with court staff, family members of Olive, and jurors on the case. Rosemary Olive had left the courtroom prior to Roberson’s statement.
Olive read several statements from family members lauding the conviction of Roberson and detailing how he had negatively affected their lives.
She described Alexander as a happy child who was always excited to meet new people.
Olive played a brief, haunting audio clip of Alexander singing in the baby talk tenor of a four year old before displaying a slide show of him from birth until shortly before his death.
Although Roberson looked down throughout much of Wednesday’s hearing, appearing to take notes, he watched all of the slide show of Alexander.
Rosemary Olive thanked everyone who was involved in the case individually.
“I just want to thank you all because I can’t bring my son back, but I do have the freedom of acknowledging the truth,” Olive said.
She said hoped her son’s death would serve to give a “voice for the vulnerable.” She also said it was between Roberson and God whether or not he wanted to acknowledge he killed Alexander.
“I would like to see through the anger and see forgiveness,” Olive said. “Mr. Roberson, I forgive you.”
Prosecutor Tricia Kelliher wasn’t as willing to forgive.
She called Roberson a “coward” and a “con man” who consistently presents himself as the victim.
“Mr. Roberson has clearly, I think, not fooled anyone in this courtroom,” Kelliher said. “At this point I think everyone is pretty much done with Mr. Roberson.”
Roberson’s conviction should serve as lesson to people to stand up for each other in “the face of evil,” Kelliher said.
“When we are silent in the face of evil, evil wins,” Kelliher said.
Although Roberson is unlikely to be released from prison because of his lengthy criminal record, the amount of time he will be incarcerated before appearing before a parole board will be dictated by the laws in place at the time of Olive’s murder.
The percentage of a sentence a convicted criminal in California is required to serve before being eligible for parole has gone up significantly since 1985, said Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe.
Roberson’s criminal history includes multiple convictions, including obstructing police, theft, forgery, assault, assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful sexual intercourse, and two counts of raping a child, Kingsbury said on Wednesday.
Prosecutors will do “everything possible” to keep Roberson in prison for the rest of his life, Kelliher said.
Kingsbury indicated Roberson could see a parole board in as few as seven years, but the convicted murderer could come before a parole board sooner depending on the amount of credit he is awarded for time served in El Dorado County jail.
In 1998, California voters passed Proposition 222, which prevents convicted murders from using time credits that will reduce the amount of time they spend in state prison.
But the change in law will not apply to Roberson because it was not in place at the time Olive was murdered.
More than 1,100 days of time credit Roberson has earned since arriving at El Dorado County jail will be applied to his sentence.
Roberson may also be eligible for more than 500 days of good conduct credit and work credit.
Kelliher and Lynch are expected to argue how many good conduct and work credits Roberson deserves at a hearing on Jan. 15.
Kelliher briefly argued on Wednesday that Roberson should be denied work credit because he did not participate in jail work programs. She is also expected to assert Roberson should be denied good conduct credit because of 57 alleged disciplinary incidents during his stint in county jail.
Lynch argued on Wednesday that several of the alleged incidents were related to Roberson’s first amendment rights regarding freedom of religion. She added Roberson should be allowed to keep work credits because he was not allowed to work in jail programs due to the seriousness of the crime of which he was accused.