Monday, 24 June 2024

Jury finds Roberts was sane at time of murder

LAKEPORT – A man found guilty last week of first-degree murder for killing his roommate was found on Tuesday to have been sane at the time of the murder, and as a result is likely facing life in prison.


On April 10 a jury convicted James Wade Roberts, 46, of the October 2006 murder of 63-year-old Ruth Donaldson at the Mullen Avenue home they shared in Clearlake, as Lake County News has reported.


Because Roberts had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges, the trial requested an additional sanity phase.


That sanity hearing started around 9 a.m. Tuesday, with testimony and closing arguments finished by noon, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.


The jury was instructed that they could could consider all the evidence from the first phase of the trial, said Hopkins. After an hour of deliberation they came out with their verdict, which was handed down at about 2 p.m.


The jury found that Roberts was sane at the time of the murder, Hopkins reported.


Defense attorney Stephen Carter said that, after the jury's verdict last week that Roberts was guilty of first-degree murder, their finding that he was sane wasn't shocking.


Carter said there was competing evidence on the issue of sanity, and added that his client didn't cooperate with two of the three doctors appointed to examine him.


That definitely affected the evidence,” said Carter, and hurt Roberts in the case.

Hopkins said Robert is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. May 9 in front of Judge Richard Martin in Department Two of Lake County Superior Court.


Roberts has five previous strikes, according to Carter.


“Under the law he'll get life in prison,” Carter said Tuesday. “Because of his prior strikes, under any possible verdict, he would have gotten life.”


Hopkins estimated that Roberts is likely facing 86 years to life.


Carter said he's confident an appeal will be filed in the case, although that's something that he likely won't talk to Roberts about until closer to the sentencing date. In cases this serious appeals are standard procedure, he added.


He said he expects to file a notice of appeal, which in and of itself isn't an appeal, but is the first step in the process. An appellate attorney would then be appointed to take the case through the process, Carter said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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