Karl D. Roberts appeared in court at the Polk County Court House on Monday, December 29, 2014 regarding a competency evaluation. During the morning session, two doctors diagnosed Roberts as being schizophrenic. During the doctor’s evaluations with Roberts, Roberts admitted to hearing voices, being paranoid that the victim’s family hired people at the prison to spy on him, and that the prison was trying to slip sedative drugs into his daily medications so they could harm him while he slept. During the evaluations, Roberts was asked what was preventing the waiver of post-conviction rights. Roberts replied, “My attorney’s are the only ones standing in my way.”
When court reconvened Roberts was escorted back into the courtroom, taking a seat beside his legal team before Polk County Circuit Court Judge Looney had entered the room. Besides attorneys and a sheriff’s deputy, there were nine people in the courtroom, some, if not all, family members of 12-year-old rape and murder victim Andria “Andi” Brewer. In addition there were two witnesses, one being Daryl Fujii, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist who practices in Kailua, Hawaii. Fujii was flown in especially for his testimony and professional evaluation. He said, after today’s court adjournment, that his expertise was in secondary brain injuries.
Roberts looked out into the courtroom and, in a friendly manner, said, “Good to see you all.” He then complimented the haircut of one young female, who in turn thanked him in a cordial manner. Roberts then appeared to say something to a member of his legal team, who was sitting between the Defendant and the family, but Roberts possibly could’ve been speaking to Greg Brewer, father of the victim. Brewer, unlike the other family members, was standing alongside the partition in the courtroom, behind the seat of Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner where he had more of a frontal viewpoint of Roberts.
Rebecca Petty, mother of the victim and who was sitting in the room, said that Brewer flipped off Roberts and that Roberts said, “Greg, it’s all going to be okay.”
Brewer rushed through the swinging gate of the court partition and past the legal team as he attempted to attack Roberts. A sheriff’s deputy standing behind Roberts quickly intervened, preventing Brewer from getting his hands on Roberts. Both the young lady that Roberts complimented and a young boy rushed out of the courtroom and into the hallway in tears, bypassing two more deputies who leapt the partition to help subdue Brewer as he was still attempting to break free and engage Roberts. A portion of the attendees vacated the room while some stayed, including another male who crossed the partition and was yelling at Brewer, possibly trying to get him to calm down. Deputies ordered the second male to back away to the other side of the partition, which he obeyed after the third time he was ordered to do so.
The deputies then were able to pull Brewer free and out of the courtroom. He was arrested and taken to the Polk County Jail. Brewer was charged with obstructing governmental operations, resisting arrest and assault third degree. He was later released on $730.00 bond.
Roberts was then removed from the courtroom, followed by his legal team. A deputy reentered and notified the room that Judge Looney was clearing the courtroom. The trial reconvened under closed proceedings, allowing only for the two witnesses, the attorneys and the press to reenter and remain throughout.
Riner finished cross-examining Dr. Fujii, who has been a consultant on the case since 2011. Fujii last interviewed Roberts in 2013. Roberts, who admitted to raping and strangling his niece (by marriage), was sentenced to die May 24, 2000 but was given a stay of execution just hours before he was to die. Roberts has repeatedly asked that his execution be carried out. On May 22, 2003 the court had decided, amongst other things, that the Defendant (Roberts) had the capacity and was clearly competent to understand the choice between life and death, to knowingly and intelligently waive any and all rights to pursue post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 37.5 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure or habeas corpus relief in a federal court and that he unequivocally expressed his desire for his death sentence to be carried out by lethal injection.
Dr. Fujii, referring to notes in a yellow legal pad from his last interview with the convicted murderer, stated that Roberts had been prescribed Prozac on a long-term basis, as well as Valium and Diazepam. Fujii said that Roberts “…was not competent to waive his legal rights and make that decision because he has hallucinations and is delusional. His perception of his life in prison is that he is being tormented daily from the (prison) administration all the way down to the general population (prisoners). He is afraid of being raped and tortured due to his psychosis and that is why he wants the death penalty.” Riner retorted that prison isn’t a nice place.
Fujii continued, “As Doctor Peacock said, there is a rational fear and that it is exacerbated by (Roberts’) frequent hallucinations of being harassed and sexually abused, and his belief that there is a conspiracy between the administration and inmates to do so…”
Fujii added, “I think people who are depressed by their circumstances, such as facing life in prison, want to die and it plays a factor in their decision.”
Riner concluded his cross-examination. Roberts’ public defender, Scott Braden, submitted a stack of affidavits in lieu of testimony for witnesses 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 as additional support to the testimony of Doctors Fujii and Peacock. Roberts then asked Braden if he could add something and address the court which he felt helped to explain his reasoning. Braden denied the request.
Judge Looney stated that the initial decision the court had to make was whether Roberts was competent in making his decision to waive his rights.
If found competent then the courts would refer back to testimony given on April 12th, May 14th and in September of 2014 in which Roberts clearly stated his wishes at that time. The judge then stated he would have to look over the affidavits presented and consider it along with the other testimony. Due to the fact that Judge Looney retires from office on December 31, 2014, he said that he would read through the affidavits in a timely manner so as not to drag the procedure on. After weighing all the testimony he will then give his written decision and notify counsel.
Judge Looney then wished Roberts the best of luck, which Roberts thanked him before being led back to prison.