Robert Robertson was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for the murder of his two year old daughter. According to court documents Robert Robertson would bring his two year old daughter to a local hospital telling doctors the little girl had fallen out of bed. The two year old would be sent by helicopter to a major trauma center where she would die the next day from her injuries. Robert Robertson would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Robert Robertson 2021 Information
|Name||Roberson III, Robert Leslie|
|Date of Birth||11/10/1966|
|Age (when Received)||36|
|Education Level (Highest Grade Completed)||10|
|Date of Offense||01/31/2002|
|Age (at the time of Offense)||35|
|Height (in Feet and Inches)||6′ 0″|
|Weight (in Pounds)||269|
Robert Robertson More News
Robert Roberson shuffled into a courtroom this week wearing a striped gray jumpsuit and handcuffs, his life once again hanging in the balance.
After 15 years on death row, his face has grown gaunt, and patches of dark hair shoot up from his balding head. But he has maintained during his time in prison that he didn’t kill his sickly two-year-old daughter, Nikki Curtis, though he was convicted of that crime.
He says that Nikki fell from the bed where they were sleeping in their home in this small East Texas town, and he awoke hours later to find her unresponsive. But as doctors and nurses struggled to revive her blue, limp body in the emergency room that morning, suspicions of child abuse quickly arose — they said a short fall wouldn’t have caused such damage.
At his trial, doctors testified that her injuries were consistent with what is often referred to as “shaken baby syndrome,” a now-questionably diagnosed condition his attorneys say helped jurors opt for the death penalty.
But instead of facing the state’s death chamber — which he narrowly avoided two years ago — Roberson was back in court Tuesday, again fighting against his conviction and for his life, thanks largely to a relatively new state law that allows courts to overturn a conviction when the scientific evidence that originally led to the verdict has since changed or been discredited.
“The only reason Mr. Roberson is still alive today is because the state of Texas passed a rather trailblazing statute,” his attorney, Gretchen Sween, declared to the courtroom.
The law, often referred to as the “junk science law,” was the first of its kind in the nation and passed with scant opposition in 2013. In pushing for its passage, state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, listed infant trauma as one of several examples of faulty science the bill was meant to target.
Since its passage, multiple death penalty cases have been sent back to court for further review, and it has been cited in cases like that of the “San Antonio Four,” where women convicted on faulty sexual assault evidence were exonerated after nearly 15 years in prison.
In June 2016, Roberson became one of the first death row inmates to have his conviction set for reviewed under the law — a decision the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals made just days before his scheduled execution. The court was instructed to decide whether Roberson would have been convicted if new scientific evidence — like new views on fatal short-distance falls and shaken baby syndrome injuries — were available at his original trial.
In the last decade, experts have become divided on shaken baby syndrome, where an infant is killed from being violently shaken back and forth. Many doctors strongly stand by the diagnoses, but others, including the doctor who is first credited with observing the condition, think it is used too liberally in criminal cases — that deaths are labeled as murder without considering other possibilities and medical histories. The Washington Post reported in 2015 that 16 shaken baby syndrome convictions had been overturned since 2001.
oberson’s attorneys argue in part that new scientific evidence has suggested it is impossible to shake a toddler to death without causing serious neck injuries, which Nikki did not have, and has linked the symptoms used to diagnose shaken baby syndrome to other conditions as well, including short-distance falls.
“There has been a tremendous amount of new scientific evidence,” said Gary Udashen, board president of the Innocence Project of Texas. “Biomechanical engineering studies have shown that you can generate enough force from a short-distance fall to cause serious head injuries.”