A morning of sometimes-contentious testimony in the trial of Brenda Roberts ended Wednesday before noon with Roberts taking the stand in her own defense.
Roberts is charged with being an accessory after the fact in the 2003 murder and armed robbery of James Bolt at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Laurens.
She is accused of helping accused murderer Arthur “A.J.” Bowers cover up his alleged crimes by washing and destroying blood-soaked clothing worn during the attack on Bolt.
After the prosecution rested its case, 8th Circuit Judge Frank Addy rejected the request of Defense Attorney Richard H. Warder for a directed verdict, meaning a decision by Addy in favor of the defendant and arguing that no “reasonable jury” could favor the prosecution.
Roberts, 65, was the final witness to take the stand in the three-day trial. Closing arguments are to be heard Thursday morning, after which the case will be turned over to the jury by Addy.
“I can stand before God and say that I didn’t wash those clothes,” Roberts said, breaking down in tears on the stand for a second time.
Roberts also said investigators misunderstood what she meant when she told them that she would “take it to her grave,” saying that she was not talking about information regarding the crime but rather that she was not involved in a cover-up as accused.
“I’m a Christian woman,” she said, sobbing. “I never washed those clothes. I can stand before God myself with a clean conscience. That’s all I meant.”
Warder, of Greenville, questioned Roberts during her testimony, seeking to portray her as a woman with a troubled family who had worked to better herself.
Under cross-examination from 8th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Warren Mowry, Roberts conceded after being shown a sworn statement given to law enforcement that she did tell grandson Randy Gambrell not to freely share information about Bowers and the murder of Bolt with investigators.
“I’m sorry but I guess I did,” she said.
On Wednesday morning the trial resumed with the continued testimony of Roberts’ son, Doyle Wayne Roberts, who is also known as “Wanda Wayne.”
Video of Doyle Wayne Roberts implicating his mother in the cover-up for Bowers that was taken in 2012 by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office was entered into evidence.
At that time, Doyle Wayne Roberts had been arrested for stealing his mother’s car and stated that his mother “knew she had washed those clothes” and that he would “tell it all to (retired Laurens Police investigator) Tony Lynch.”
On the stand Wednesday morning, Doyle Wayne Roberts said he had lied then because he was angry with his mother for reporting her car stolen and he was drunk and high.
“I was very, very intoxicated,” Roberts said. “I went to jail with crack in my mouth and smoked it in the county jail.”
Roberts also shouted that the prosecuting attorneys and law-enforcement officers were liars, pointing at Lynch and Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Ben Blackmon.
Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jared Honeycutt testified that Roberts was not charged with DUI.
“He did not appear to be intoxicated,” Honeycutt said of Roberts. “He acted the same way he’d acted any other time we’d dealt with him.”
The jury was asked to return at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.