BY LEANN DILBECK –
Karl D. Roberts appeared in Polk County Circuit Court today but his defense team argued and received another continuance, claiming that they had not received notice of today’s hearing, and their witnesses were not available. The new hearing date has not yet been set.
It was just over one year ago that Karl D. Roberts stated, “I would like to live but at the same time I am bound by law to take responsibility for the wrongs I’ve done. I’m ready to go,” when he appeared in Polk County Circuit Court in September 2013.
In May of 2000, Roberts was convicted for the 1999 rape and strangulation murder of his 12-year old niece (by marriage) Andi Brewer. He was sentenced to die by lethal injection.
Roberts waived his right to challenge his conviction and sentence in 2000 in Polk County Circuit Court.
As is customary in death penalty cases, the Arkansas Supreme Court reviewed the case for any errors that may have occurred in the trial courts (Polk County Circuit Court).
On May 20, 2003, Roberts appeared in Polk County Circuit Court and told the Court, “I don’t think a guilty person should be allowed to live or he should at least accept responsibility, his punishment whatever it may be.” The Circuit Judge asked Roberts if he understood that he was choosing death over life. Roberts answered, “Yes, sir.” The Circuit Court held this to be a valid waiver of Roberts’ right to pursue any further appeals.
However, just hours before he was scheduled for execution in January 2004, Roberts allowed his attorneys to seek an appeal and received a stay of execution. Ultimately, the Arkansas Supreme Court re-opened his case on February 14, 2013 following numerous legal actions and delays.
While Roberts was on the stand in September 2013, Judge Looney asked him about a letter he (Roberts) had written to a federal judge that had been ordered sealed. Looney respected the request and did not read the letter but asked Roberts about certain points in the letter. Roberts confirmed that he did not want the process to be delayed anymore and cited that he didn’t want to bring any more heartache to himself or his family to an already grievous situation.
At that same hearing, Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner asked Roberts if his decision to seek the appeal was “the right one,” in which, Roberts replied, “After everything me and my family has suffered through…no it wasn’t.”
The Arkansas Supreme Court ordered another recent mental evaluation in September 2013 to confirm that Roberts understands that he was choosing death over life. The mental evaluation that proved he was fit to stand trial is not sufficient or recent enough to satisfy the Arkansas Supreme Court. Today’s hearing was the first since September 2013 and was to include the results of that evaluation.