James Matthew Roberts either saved his knife-wielding, suicidial girlfriend from herself in Brownwood on June 1 - or assaulted her by punching her unconscious.
Those were the conflicting viewpoints District Judge Steve Ellis heard Tuesday from prosecutor Ryan Locker and defense attorney Kirby Roberts during a hearing to determine whether James Roberts had violated his probation.
Ellis ruled that Roberts, 24, had violated his deferred adjudication probation - which stemmed from a 2006 assault - in the June 1 assault on his girlfriend. Ellis set an Oct. 30 hearing to determine whether Roberts will be adjudicated and the nature of his punishment.
Locker is seeking prison time. Roberts’ girlfriend, also 24, loves Roberts and doesn’t want him prosecuted, testimony showed. Roberts is in the Brown County Jail.
Roberts assaulted a man on Oct. 29, 2006 and hit him with a baseball bat, sending him to the hospital with a serious eye injury, police reports and testimony at Tuesday’s hearing showed.
Roberts pleaded guilty before Ellis on March 1, 2007 in a plea bargain and was placed on seven years deferred adjudication, court records show.
Kirby Roberts began Tuesday’s hearing by asking Ellis to allow James Roberts to withdraw his 2007 guilty plea and be placed on the trial docket. Kirby Roberts told Ellis he’d learned that the complaining witness in the 2006 assault - the man hit with the baseball bat - had gone to the district attorney’s office, sought the dismissal of the case and said he’d testify that he started the altercation and that James Roberts had acted in self defense.
Ellis denied that request, saying he’d gone through his usual admonitions with James Roberts when he pleaded guilty.
Ellis then began hearing testimo-
ny from state’s witnesses. On June 1, several people, including Roberts and his girlfriend, were at a Brownwood home. His girlfriend, who had emotional issues related to her past, was intoxicated and became upset over her past, testimony showed.
She put a knife to her throat and threatened to harm herself. Her sister unsuccessfully tried to get the knife and yelled for Roberts to help.
The next thing anyone knew, Roberts had gotten the knife and tossed it away, and was sitting on top of her. The woman testified that Roberts punched her, knocking her out. “I remember three hits,” she testified.
Brownwood patrolman Aaron Taylor testified that he was dispatched to an assault. He arrived to find the woman with a bruised and swollen eye, a bruise on her forehead and abrasions to her scalp, Taylor testified. She said Roberts had injured her and was taken away by Guardian EMS.
Roberts had left the scene, and sheriff’s deputies found him at relatives’ home in the county, Taylor testified. Deputies arrested Roberts at Taylor’s request.
Taylor said he spoke with Roberts later, and Roberts said he’d come outside to see his girlfriend on the ground. He told Taylor he saw her injuries and left, fearful of getting in trouble.
“But for her conduct, we would not be sitting here arguing any of this,” Kirby Roberts told Ellis. He argued that his client had acted out of moral obligation to get the knife away from his girlfriend and was struggling to restrain her when she was injured.
“I can’t imagine a scenario in which his moral obligation extended to punching her unconscious,” Locker countered.