Jeena Roberts bail jumping trial underway

Reported by: Ashley Claster
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Updated: 10/16/2013 12:36 am
Testimony in the trial to determine whether Jeena Roberts should serve prison time for bail-jumping began Tuesday. The former Texas Tech student pled guilty in November 2012 to intoxicated assault and intoxicated manslaughter.

Roberts was driving drunk when she collided with another vehicle in October 2010, killing 54-year-old Linda Smaltz.

Roberts was supposed to turn herself in January 7th to begin serving her 15-year prison sentence. She didn't report, however. She was arrested a couple of weeks later in Houston. Last week, Judge Jim Bob Darnell denied her attorney's request to move the bail-jumping trial out of lubbock.

During opening statements, the prosecution said Roberts intentionally and knowingly failed to appear for her sentence on January 7th, 2013.

The defense appealed to the juror's emotional side. They said Roberts received a degree in petroleum engineering from Texas Tech, she was young and had the world at her feet - but not anymore. She planned to report on January 7th, but was terrified of serving fifteen years (without the possibility of parole until she served half of her sentence).

They said that the night before she was supposed to report, she got ready to go to jail. But instead, she made the mistake of listening to her father. They said her father told her not to go, and he is the one that rented the hotel room that she hid in.

Victor Lugo, the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office TDCJ Coordinator, confirmed that he was waiting for Roberts to report on January 7th, and she did not report on the 7th, 8th or 9th of January.

LPD Sergeant Tim Seely said he considered the investigation to find her vigorously dedicated, and it took an entire week. He said Roberts was taken into law enforcement unwillingly.  He said Roberts' father, Craig Roberts, signed for the hotel room that she stayed in from January 14th until January 17th.

Jason Carrell,  Deputy US Marshall from Houston worked the investigation from Houston. Carrell said on January 21, he found Roberts at the Ramada Inn Motel room 409. He said the door was slightly open and he heard voices inside and entered. The bathroom door was closed, he said, and he went in. Carrell testified Roberts was in between the door and the wall. She eventually came out and was arrested. He said Roberts had cut her hair and changed the color. 

Carrell said that nobody told him Roberts was there. He said,  "I'm just really good at my job."

He said he saw several suitcases and alcohol in hotel room, and that once cuffed, Roberts tried to run out. He had to hold onto the handcuffs to keep her from escaping. Carrell told jurors that Roberts said, "I didnt think anyone still cared about this," and later said, "I was 21. What did you want me to do?"

The defense questioned Carrell further and he said the Roberts might have been trying to run away to catch her dog, which was already outside of the door when authorities arrived. 

The defense began its case by calling Carrie Roberts, Jeena's mother. She said it (the wreck) was a terrible tragedy, and Roberts was remorseful. She said Roberts had planned on going back to Lubbock for sentencing, even dying her roots so they would not grow out during her sentence, but that she panicked. The defense showed Carrie a copy of Jeena's father Craig Roberts' signature on the hotel bill. Carrie told jurors that it was not Craig's signature.

Carrie said that she noticed Roberts was gone about 6 or 7 am. She testified she then called Jeena, her friends and her father. Nobody knew where she was, she said. Carrie Roberts said she did not go looking for her daughter nor did she contact law enforcement to try to find her.

Carrie Roberts then said she received information on her her daughter's whereabouts two weeks later, and that she had no idea where her daughter was during the two weeks.

Following the lunch recess, Roberts' probation officer testified there was never any concern or indication that Roberts was not going to show up to turn herself in on January 7th.

The last witness that was to be called on Tuesday was Roberts' father, Craig Roberts, but his flight to Lubbock was delayed. 

The trial will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m.

FOX 34's Ashley Claster will be back in the courtroom live Tweeting from the trial. Follow her on Twitter @AshClasterFox34.
 
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