Thursday, May 8, 2008

False rape claim which lead to shooting lands woman 5 years

A woman whose false claims of rape led her husband to shoot her lover was sentenced to 5 years in prison for manslaughter, with 2.5 years to serve if she's on good behavior. State District Judge Louis Sturns delivered the verdict after a two hour deliberation in which jurors had to decide on a sentence of anywhere between two and 20 years. Tracy Roberson, 26, was charged with and convicted on a manslaughter count after a Tarrant County jury decided that falsely claiming rape caused her husband to kill her boyfriend.

Initially, the Tarrant County prosecutor charged her husband, Darrell, with murder for the slaying, but the grand jury declined to indict him, but her.

Mr. LaSalle died in December 2006 after Mr. Roberson shot him outside the Robersons' south Arlington home. Mr. Roberson fired after he returned home from a card game and caught Mr. LaSalle and his wife – who was clad in only a bathrobe and underwear at the time – together in Mr. LaSalle's truck.

During her two-hour testimony Monday, Mrs. Roberson told the jury she began dating Mr. LaSalle shortly after they met in September or October 2006 when he struck up a conversation with her at a store. She later learned they had children in the same school in Mansfield.

Mrs. Roberson, a mother of three, said Mr. LaSalle was flattering, flirtatious and attentive. She also testified that she had no friends before meeting Mr. LaSalle.

"He made me feel like a different person. He gave me a lot of compliments," Mrs. Roberson said. "Devin said a lot of things that I never heard. I know it was wrong to have an affair. If I just kept walking that day, we wouldn't be here right now."

Mrs. Roberson, who has reconciled with her husband and moved to Frisco, said Mr. Roberson used to abuse her, and once pulled a gun on her during an argument.

During trial testimony last week, prosecutors portrayed the housewife as a woman who cried rape to save herself. On the 911 tape from that night, they said four minutes passed before Mrs. Roberson mentioned that a man had been shot outside of her home.

Mr. LaSalle, a 32 year old Hurricane Katrina survivor, coached his sons' sports teams and drove a UPS truck, according to family and friends. Juros heard about two familied who lives were shattered because of the shooting and the aftermath.

Mr. LaSalle's 12-year-old son, Kendall, cried on the stand Monday as he described the last evening he spent with his father at a Cowboys-Saints football game. His father, he said, cried when one of the Saints players gave his son a football jersey.

"It was first time I'd ever seen him cry," said Kendall.

"He said he was glad that his kids could get the best in life. All I could do was cry, too."
Mr. LaSalle's mother, Carla LaSalle, showed family snapshots to the jury, including photos of Mr. LaSalle as a baby, a big brother, athlete, fisherman and father.

"I just want this to end," she said. "I don't want anybody else's mother to go through what I went through. No one can get off scot-free. A man was killed."

Mrs. Roberson's oldest daughter, Quintoria, testified that her mother was active with the PTA and vital to her academic success. She said she had turned down a full academic scholarship to care for her younger sisters in case her mother went to prison.

A similar case happened in 2007 after a 30 year old teacher, Erin McLean's affair with an 18 year old student led her husband, Eric McLean to gun down the student and set himself up on 1st degree murder charges in Tennesee. Erin McLean was later fired after fliering with a 17 year old student, then fled with her two kids to California. No charges have been filed against her.
(Update 5-7-08) In his first interview since the conviction of his wife on manslaughter, Darrell Robinson said that he sincerely believed his waife had been raped by her lover. He said he would have done nothing differnt if the same situation occured.
"When I heard my wife scream rape and I saw him trying to drive off from the scene, I had no choice but to do what I did. If I had to do it over, I’d do it again.”
Darrell Roberson spoke to the media from the office of his wife's lawyer, Fort Worth attorney Jill Davis, who said she has filed an appeal on the case.

Darrell Roberson said he wishes he could take his wife's place in jail.

“I’m a man," Roberson said, "and as a man you hate to see your wife hurt. You don’t want your wife going through those types of things.”
Even though court testimony said that Tracy was intimate with the victim twice, Darrell said he would never divorce his wife.
“Sure, I was upset at the situation," Roberson said. "When I took my marriage vows I took them seriously. I’m going to stick with my family for better or worse.”

Darrell Roberson said his wife has considered ending her own life.

“Tracy has regretted this from day one," he said. "She told me she has contemplated suicide and I told her 'no.' That would kill me."

He said he told her, “You made a mistake and I forgive you. God forgives you, now let's move on.”
(Update 5-8-08) Tracy Roberson has been released pending appeal.

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