Father convicted in son’s death gets new trial

LEFT TO RIGHT: Brian Roberts AND Nehemiah Dodd.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo man serving life in prison for the 2013 death of his 2-year-old son will be getting a new trial.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Brian Keith Roberts should get a new trial for the murder of 2-year-old Nehemiah Dodd. Roberts was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in connection to his son’s Dec. 31, 2013 murder.

The court found Roberts’ attorney was legally ineffective for not getting witnesses to support the defense’s case that Dodd’s injuries were an accident and not intentional abuse.

Roberts previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case. He later withdrew his plea after the judge told him he would likely be sentenced to more than 18 years in prison under the agreement, according to the ruling.

The case then went to trial where a jury found Roberts guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse.

The appeals court also highlighted the recent debate around head trauma in children and the growing number of cases that were possibly accidental falls and not probable abuse like medical experts claimed during trial.

The case will now head back to Kalamazoo County Circuit Court unless the ruling is appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.



Michigan Court of Appeals’ ruling (PDF)