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Man found unfit for trial in girl’s killing in Branson motel

September 17, 2015

FORSYTH, Mo. (AP) — A judge has found that a man accused of killing a 6-year-old girl after luring her with snacks into his southwest Missouri hotel room is not mentally fit to stand trial.

Judge Eric Eighmy ordered Wednesday that John P. Roberts be sent to a state hospital, The Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/1QIrymu ) reports. After treatment, the goal is for Roberts, 55, to be able to assist his attorneys in his defense and eventually stand trial.

Roberts is charged with first-degree murder in the February killing of Jasmine Miller. The killing happened at an extended stay motel near several attractions in the tourist town of Branson.

A state psychiatrist says Roberts has an IQ of 57 and “a very basic low comprehension that he is in trouble.”

Forensic psychiatrist James Reynolds, who interviewed Roberts for 90 minutes in June, recommended that he be sent to a secure unit in the Fulton State Hospital. Eighmy said he expected a progress report on Roberts from the Missouri Department of Mental Health by March 15.

The psychiatrist testified that he asked Roberts about various aspects of the legal proceedings against him.

Roberts told the psychiatrist that he believed the range of punishment ranged from having his “brain cooked” and “injecting him with poison” — possibly referring to the death penalty — to having to go to schools and tell students about the evils of drugs and alcohol.

The psychiatrist also testified that Roberts suffered from diabetes and hypertension and that his mental acuity possibly could improve if those health problems are reduced while at Fulton.

Over a span of 45 years, Roberts has had his IQ tested five times - with scores ranging from 57 to 69, Reynolds testified. He said a person often is considered developmentally disabled with a score under 70.