Photo by Curt Yeomans
A Clayton County jury found Keith Jerome Roberts to be guilty of the 2006 murder of Morehouse College student Carlnell Walker on Friday. He was convicted on charges of malice murder, felony murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault and false imprisonment.
A fingerprint turned out to be enough for a Clayton County jury Friday to convict an Atlanta man for the 2006 murder of Morehouse College student Carlnell Walker.
The jury convicted Keith Jerome Roberts of malice murder, felony murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault and false imprisonment, in connection with Walker’s death in the summer of 2006, according to Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers.
Walker was stabbed, beaten, tied up with computer cords, doused with lamp oil and had his dreadlocks cut off before he was put in his car’s trunk and left to die at his Riverdale-area home. The only evidence prosecutors had to tie Roberts to the crime scene was a fingerprint, found on the glass globe, from an oil lamp, in Walker’s living room.
“We’re very pleased with the jury’s decision, and we feel it speaks the truth about what happened,” Powers said.
The conviction of Roberts brings a close to the nearly six-year old case of Walker’s death. Roberts was the last of four defendants to either be put on trial, or reach a plea deal on charges related to the murder. One other defendant, Miles Allen, was found guilty of murder, among other charges, in August 2009. Another defendant, Breylan Garland, was acquitted a couple of months later.
A third defendant, Theodore Holliman, pleaded guilty to burglary, while the other charges were dropped, in a negotiated plea in 2010.
Powers said sentencing for Roberts will be done at a yet-to-be determined date. A lengthy prison sentence is all but guaranteed, though. The murder charge alone carries a life sentence in jail, she said. She added the malice murder and felony murder charges will be merged during the sentencing phase.
Defense attorney Dwight L. Thomas argued multiple times during the trial that the fingerprint was not enough to find his client guilty of the murder. He also put Roberts’ younger brother, Andrew Roberts, on the stand, on Wednesday.
Andrew Roberts testified that he, his brother and Carlnell Walker were “like a real brotherhood,” and had hung out at Walker’s home several times. But he also struggled to answer detailed questions about their friendship under cross examination by Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green. Powers urged jurors in her closing statement to focus on the questions Andrew Roberts could not answer.
Thomas said he has not yet had an opportunity to talk to his client about the verdict, but he added that he plans to fight the jury’s decision. “All I can say right now is we’re a little surprised, and a little disappointed, by the verdict and we will be filing an appeal,” the attorney said.