Brian Keith Roberts, a 41-year-old resident of Kalamazoo, was sentenced to life in prison on April 27 for the abuse and resulting murder of his 2-year-old son. The little boy, Nehemiah “Nemo” Dodd, died earlier this year on January 2nd from injuries that doctors said were consistent with child abuse.
Roberts was convicted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse last month. It took the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court jury only two hours to determine his guilt in the matter, and make the decision that would put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
According to police records, on New Year’s Eve of 2013, Kalamazoo Police officers responded to an emergency call from a Kalamazoo home, where the toddler was found unresponsive. Roberts, who had only taken custody of the little boy a few weeks earlier, told officers at the scene that the child had been knocked out after falling down the stairs. Nehemiah was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital, but died just two days later.
Roberts, whose prior criminal history includes charges for criminal sexual conduct and domestic violence charges, was arrested shortly thereafter. The warrant stated that autopsy results had revealed a history of child abuse.
Initially, Roberts accepted a plea agreement in which he pled guilty to second-degree murder in return for a sentence at the lowest end of the state’s sentencing guidelines, which would be less than life in prison. But Circuit Court Judge Gary Giguere Jr. told him that he would not honor that agreement. 18 years in prison was not nearly enough to pay for what he had done to his own son, claimed the judge.
Roberts was given the option of withdrawing his plea, which he took. As a result, he went to trial, where a jury convicted him on both counts. Under Michigan law, a charge of first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.