Judge grants competency exam for accused child killer

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BRANSON MO NEWS: A man accused of strangling a 6-year-old girl will get another competency exam.John Roberts, 58, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jasmine Miller.According to online court records, Judge Jason Brown ruled there is sufficient reason to be concerned about Roberts’ competency and granted approval for a competency exam.

During a hearing Sept. 5, Roberts’ public defender, James Egan presented three expert witnesses who all said Roberts was unfit for trial. In the court docket, Brown wrote that the new evidence “does cast some doubt” on Roberts’ current status.Roberts’ competency has been a contested issue in court for more than three years now.In July 2015, the online docket for Roberts’ case showed that an order filed by the Missouri Department of Mental Health found Roberts is “permanently incompetent to stand trial.” The online listing was changed a few hours later to state only that a mental exam had been filed and sent to Taney County Judge Eric Eighmy for review.Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell objected to the order, so a competency hearing was held over two days in February and March 2017. In June 2017, Eighmy declared Roberts fit for trial.Egan appealed the decision to the state appeals court, and then to the Missouri Supreme Court, both of which declined to stop the case.In January 2018, with the case now before Judge Brown, the judge had allowed a limited examination to evaluate Roberts. On Jan. 25, over Egan’s objection, Brown set a jury trial for Sept. 24 in Taney County; however, that trial date has been stricken.Miller was reported missing on Feb. 21, 2015, and was found dead in Robert’s room. According to court testimony from Branson Police Sgt. Sean Barnwell, Roberts strangled Miller after she had come into his room and taken a snack cake. He said …



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