Community shocked, saddened
Youth Shoots, Kills Father
By Floretta Bush
The violent death Saturday of South Belt resident Benny Roberts was met by shock and sadness by those who knew him, feeling that perhaps magnified many times over by those you knew his 15-year-old son, who police say is responsible for his father's death.
It was around 6:30 p.m. when a quarrel between the 42-year-old Roberts, a Department of Public Safety sergeant, and his wife Arla ended, with Benny's death, say officers. The quarrel at the Kirkwood South residence apparently involved discipline of the couple's two children, both teenagers, said HPD Sgt. A.J. Toepoel.
According to Toepoel, the son, Lamont, intervened, resulting in a "physical confrontation." The son then went upstairs, obtained a shotgun and returned to this kitchen where he shot his father in the upper portion of the body, he said. One policeman said the father was shot in the face with a small shotgun.
When paramedics arrived at 6:45 p.m., Roberts was dead.
It apparently started out an everyday kind of things for homes with teenagers," said police Sgt. Steve Arrington. Toepoel added that "fron that point, it just went bad."
Neighbors, however, have stated that wife Arla told officers Benny had physically abused the family for several years.
Lamont, a sophomore at Dobie High School, was on the junior varsity basketball team and enrolled in at least one honors class.
His teachers expressed disbelief over the incident.
"He was conscientious, quiet and very respectful," said honors algebra teacher Kathleen Murrell. He was very honest and upright. It is so distressing to think of this happening."
Dobie basketball coach Scott Talton said the teen worked very hard and was never a discipline problem. "Lamont was a starting point guard and had potential as a varsity player, Talton said.
When the youth turned himself into police, within an hour after the shooting, he seemed upset and was taken into custody peacefully, said Toepoel. Immediately after the shooting he had run upstairs, jumped out of a window and fled, the officer said.
The teen apparently called police from a friend's residence on Beamer where he surrendered.
A juvenile detention hearing Wednesday resulted in Roberts being detained. He will remain at the juvenile detention center 10 days and will receive another hearing, said juvenile prosecuting attorney Elizabeth Godwin. He will receive a hearing every 10 days until his case is disposed of, she said.
Godwin said the district attorney's office has filed to have Roberts certified as an adult. That hearing is set for Feb. 18.
I couldn't think of him being in a detention center," said Murrell. "What kind of education would he receive?"
As for Benny Roberts, he apparently was both a professional and a well-liked individual.
He had recently been working with the South Belt Security Alliance as a patrol officer.
"He liked his neighborhood and liked to work here in it," said Neil West, director of the Alliance. "He did a good job."
Funeral services for Roberts were scheduled or Thursday, Jan. 8 at Kashmere Funeral Home in Houston.
Hearing brought tears
Roberts not to be tried as an adult
By Floretta Bush
A myriad of witnesses last week came to the defense of a South Belt teen, who as a result, will not be tried as an adult for the January shooting death of his father.
Sixteen-year-old Lamont Roberts hugged his mother Arla Roberts after state District Judge Robert L. Lowry announced his ruling Friday.
"I've never tried as an emotionally compelling case as this one," said Roberts' attorney, Michael Charlton. "A few tears came to a few people's eyes."
Community response to the Roberts case came from more than a few, he added. Classmates, teachers, friends, and neighbors rallied to Roberts' rescue, Charlton said, volunteering to testify on his behalf.
"I've never seen this kind of community support before," he said.
Roberts shot his father Benny Roberts a state trooper in the head with a shotgun on the night of Jan. 3, the result of years of abuse, the defense claimed. Testimony revealed that Benny had been drinking on the night of the shooting and was physically and verbally abusive to Lamont and Arla.
While much of the testimony centered on Lamont's character, much also encompassed Benny's history of being abusive to his family.
"The purpose of this testimony was not to show what kind of individual Benny was, but to prove that Lamont was reacting to a violent set of circumstances," said Charlton.
Among those testifying on behalf of Lamont were neighbors, family members, members of Lamont's church and the principal of Dobie High School where Lamont is a sophomore. "I testified that if I had a school full of Lamonts, it would make education easy," Dobie principal Jerry Speer said following the three-day hearing.
Lamont is an honors students who has excelled in sports while at Dobie, particularly the junior varsity basketball team. Lamont is an honors student who has excelled in sports while at Dobie, particularly the junior varsity basketball team.
A look at Lamont's school records during the proceedings showed no discipline problem. The only marks against Roberts are two instances of tardiness in the last two years.
Speer said the students and faculty were exuberant over the judge's decision.
Charles Kymes, minister of the Southeast Church of Christ attended by Lamont during the past few months also testified on behalf of Lamont. Kymes and his family have know Lamont two years, since Lamont began playing basketball with his son Stacy at Dobie.
"I honestly and sincerely feel he is a good person and was a victim of circumstance," Kymes said. He said that Lamont had not mentioned any problems with his father, but added that the boy was "not the kind to show his emotions."
"I think the proper things was done -- in the best interest of Lamont and in the best interest of our society. He can contribute to our state, our country."
Among those who didn't testify was Lamont's mother. "We didn't think it was necessary, and it has been a terrible ordeal for her too," Charlton said. Arla Roberts said this week the outcome of the trial has elicited a feeling of relief in herself and her son.
"We appreciate everybody's support," she said. Charlton said it has not yet been determined whether the case will go to trial, said the state probation department.
"We will make an assessment of Lamont, taking into consideration his background and what the court should do if he is found guilty. Their position will dictate what decide," he said.
State prosecution attorney Haseman said on Friday that he intended to ask that Roberts be tried for murder as a juvenile, and will ask for the commitment to the Texas Youth Council.
Arla Roberts said she feels positive that there is the possibility Lamont will be given probation.
Meanwhile, Lamont, who has been attending school since being released into custody in January, resumed classes Monday, and as usual is "getting along with everybody," said basketball coach Talton.
His mother said she is very proud of the way Lamont has conducted himself through he ordeal and also of the favorable way he is thought of by the community.
"I am very proud of him," she said, "He has always been very special to me."