Judge sentences Roberts to 20 years in 2016 fatal stabbing

By DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,

A jury convicted Selena Roberts of manslaughter for the June 2016 fatal stabbing of her boyfriend, Danny Brown, on Tuesday, April 10 in the Newton County Eighth District Circuit Court. Circuit Court Judge Chris Collins sentenced Roberts to the maximum 20-year prison sentence on Thursday.

Roberts, 42, was arrested by Newton County sheriff’s deputies on June 6, 2016, after Brown’s family discovered his body that morning in the bedroom of his mobile home at 2856 Buckley Road in Chunky. Roberts was indicted for first degree murder by the grand jury in May 2017.

The jurors had the three choices of convicting Roberts of first degree murder, of manslaughter or acquitting her. Public defense attorneys Shawn Harris and Mitch Thomas, in their defense of Roberts, argued that she had been the victim of abuse and sexual assaults by Brown, 42, throughout their relationship.

The jury deliberated for about 25 minutes and announced their verdict just before 5 p.m.

Roberts testified on her own behalf on April 10 and said that Brown had been accused of sexually abusing one of her two sons prior to the killing. The Department of Human Services had investigated the allegation and did not find any evidence.

However, Roberts said that some acquaintances of hers and Brown kept inferring that the allegations were true.

Roberts said that on the day of the killing, while attempting to sodomize her in the bedroom mobile home they sometimes shared, Brown bragged about sexually abusing one of her sons and that was why she flew into a rage. Roberts said she left the bedroom and retrieved a butcher knife from the kitchen. She admitted to returning to the bedroom where Brown was lying in bed and stabbing him in the neck. Roberts admitted to being under of the effects of narcotics, including methamphetamine and cocaine on the day of the killing.

Dr. Brent Davis, a forensics pathologist with the state medical examiner’s office, testified for the prosecution and specified the wounds that Brown suffered from the attack.

“He had multiple injuries to his lungs and main vascular, meaning the blood vessels in his body,” Davis said. “I counted 11 stab wounds. Sharp-force injuries are classified as stab wounds or incised wounds. Incised wounds are cuts or incisions in the skin and stab wounds typically go deep inside the body.”

The jury was shown autopsy photographs of Brown’s body and photos from the crime scene at the mobile home.

Davis said there was a stab wound that entered into Brown’s back and penetrated into this left lung.

Davis said there was another wound to Brown’s neck and two in his right chest, and that there were about three wounds that would have caused his death on their own. 

Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight and Deputy Ryan Myers testified for the prosecution about how they found Brown’s body and how they determined that Roberts was the prime suspect in his killing.

Myers testified that Brown’s sister couldn’t get in touch with him on June 6 and she contacted the sheriff’s department. Brown’s family members said Roberts had put a padlock on the door and had removed it before he and Knight arrived. They both said Brown’s body was found in the bedroom and was covered up with clothes.

They testified that testified that the kitchen, hallway and living room were covered with blood because Roberts continued to attack Brown throughout the home. After Brown attempted to defend himself in the kitchen, he stumbled back to the bedroom and Roberts stabbed him for the final time in the back.

Myers testified that the knife was found near Brown’s body in the bedroom. District Attorney Steven Kilgore presented the knife to the jury as one of several pieces of evidence.

Roberts’ mother Alice Anderson was the first witness for the defense and testified that she had seen her daughter come to her home with severe injuries several times during her 2 to 3-year relationship with Brown. Anderson testified that Roberts has ongoing neurological problems due to injuries from a car wreck she was involved in when she was 14 and that had led to drug addiction and mental illness throughout her adult life.

Roberts said Brown had introduced her to drugs such as spice and methamphetamine and that he would exploit her in order to get possession of the disability check she received each month for her mental illness.

“He had me on a leash with drugs, meth is a very powerful drug to be addicted to,” Roberts said on the stand while being cross examined by  Kilgore. “Today I might have handled it a totally different way, but you have to understand, I was on drugs.”

Roberts cut herself during the altercation in the kitchen during her attack on Brown. Roberts admitted to covering Brown’s lifeless body with clothing because “he was looking at me,” and taking his truck and wallet to go to the Dollar General in Hickory to get bandages.

Roberts claimed she was going to turn herself in to authorities later that day, but Kilgore pointed out that she instead visited her mother’s house and then went to a Wal-Mart in Meridian before being arrested.

Roberts’ stepfather Donald Anderson and her step-uncle Jack McFee also testified that they had seen evidence of the abuse by Brown towards Roberts during their relationship.

In his closing arguments, Kilgore reasserted the state’s claim that the killing was deliberate and that Roberts’ actions after the fact were evidence of that.

“She wasn’t defending herself, we know that. If your desire is to kill somebody, you finish them off, and that’s what she did,” Kilgore said. “This is a textbook case of first degree murder.”

In their closing arguments, Harris and Thomas argued that the DHS’s previous investigation into Brown made the possibility that the allegations of the abuse could be true in Roberts’’ mind that day and that she acted in the heat of the moment.

Brown’s niece Jennifer Palmer, who adopted his son, made a statement at the sentencing on Thursday and asked for mercy for Roberts. Palmer said she and Browns’ son had forgiven Roberts.

“He prayed that Selena would get help and get right with God and that while she was in jail she would try to help others,” Palmer said to Roberts. “I pray that you would take that to heart and that no matter what, God will forgive you and there’s a path for you.”

Roberts, who had been jailed at the county jail for nearly two years, was taken into custody by the Mississippi Department of Corrections on Thursday.

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