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Anderson County judge rejects appeal for death row inmate

Robert Roberson
Robert Roberson((Source: TDCJ))
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 3:18 PM CST
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ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A new filing shows that a death row inmate’s conviction will not be overturned despite new evidence hoped to exonerate a man accused in the death of his daughter.

On Monday, Anderson County 87th District Judge Deborah Evans submitting a filing stating that the court “found insufficient facts to support granting relief” and “therefore recommends that [Roberson] be denied habeas corpus relief.”

On January 31, 2002, Roberson claimed he discovered his 2-year-old daughter, Nikki, had fallen out of bed and was injured. He took her to Palestine Regional Medical Center for treatment. She was later taken to Children’s Hospital in Dallas where she died on February 1, 2002.

Following her death, authorities arrested Robert Roberson and charged him with capital murder in connection with his daughter’s death. He was being accused of shaking and beating Nikki so bad, that she sustained severe injuries that later resulted in her death. Roberson has been on death row since 2003.

Roberson’s attorney, Gretchen Sween, issued the following statement in response to Evans’s recommendation.

“We are exceedingly disappointed that the trial court did not address the massive amount of new evidence—evidence that not only shows Mr. Roberson was wrongfully convicted based on junk science, but that he is actually innocent because no crime occurred. His daughter’s tragic death was from undiagnosed pneumonia and other accidental factors, including excessive doses of drugs that had been prescribed to her and that the FDA now expressly warns against giving to children of her age and in her condition,” Sween said. “When the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Mr. Roberson’s execution in 2016, it implicitly recognized problems with the reliability of his conviction. We earnestly hope the CCA, which will have the ultimate say, will dig into the eleven volumes of new evidence, see the obvious, and grant Mr. Roberson a new trial at long last.”

Kristin Cuellar, executive director for the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said Roberson’s request will now be turned over to the Texas Court of Criminal appeals who will then either accept the judge’s recommendation or issue their own opinion.

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