State of Missouri v. Michael Roberts

948 S.W.2d 577 (Mo.banc 1997)

Michael Roberts was executed at 12:05 a.m., October 3, 2001.

Case Facts
: On February 16, 1994 Michael Roberts and his friends ran out of money to purchase crack cocaine. Roberts promised his friends that he would get some money. He went to his house and retrieved a ball peen hammer. He then went to the home of a neighbor, Ms. Mary Taylor, whom he considered a friend.

Roberts went to Ms. Taylor’s home around 10:30 p.m. where he and Ms. Taylor watched television for awhile. Around 11:00 p.m. after receiving a telephone call from her nephew, Ms. Taylor told Roberts she wanted to go to sleep and asked him to leave. As the two walked towards the door, Roberts suddenly turned, pushed Ms. Taylor over a table and began hitting her in the head with the hammer as she lay on the floor. After hitting her in the head with the hammer more than fifteen times, Roberts went into the kitchen to find Ms. Taylor’s purse. Finding the purse, Roberts began rummaging through it until he heard Ms. Taylor move in the front room. Roberts returned to the living room where he kicked Ms. Taylor in the head and the side, telling her to be quiet. He then took the telephone cord from the wall and strangled Ms. Taylor, but she continued to breathe. Roberts then went back to the kitchen where he grabbed a steak knife and stabbed Ms. Taylor repeatedly. He tossed the steak knife aside and got a butcher knife at which time he again began stabbing Ms. Taylor Roberts, then went back to the kitchen again and filled a large soup pan with water. He then held Ms. Taylor‘s face under water. When her body started to twitch he released her head, took an answering machine and $200 and left. Roberts left the hammer and his baseball cap at the scene.

Roberts returned to the scene on two different occasions following the murder The first time was to steal more valuables and the second time was to report the crime to the police. Roberts provided the police with a videotaped confession. Physical evidence and eyewitness testimony also linked Roberts to the crime.

Legal Chronology:

02/17 – Michael Roberts murdered Mary Taylor in St. Louis County.
03/24 – Roberts indicted on one county of Murder First Degree, Burglary Second Degree, Stealing a Motor Vehicle and two counts of Armed Criminal Action.

03/20 – Roberts trial begins in the St. Louis County Circuit Court.
03/28 – Roberts convicted of Murder First Degree.
03/29 – The jury returns sentence of death.
05/06 – Roberts sentenced to death on the murder conviction.
06/01 – Roberts appealed to Missouri Supreme Court.
09/29 – Roberts filed a motion for post-conviction relief.

05/15 – The St. Louis Circuit Court denied Roberts motion for post-conviction relief.

06/17 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed Roberts’ judgement and sentence and affirmed the denial of Roberts’ motion for post-conviction relief.

01/12 – The United States Supreme Court declined to review Roberts’ state appeal.

01/11 – Roberts filed petition for writ of habeas.

04/12 – The United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit Court denied Roberts’ application for certificate of appealability.
05/23 – The U. S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit Court issued its mandate.
12/04 – The U. S. Supreme Court declined to review Roberts’ habeas petition.

07/31 – The Missouri Supreme Court sets October 3, 2001 as the execution date for Michael Roberts.