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Texas Death Row Inmate Seeks Clemency; Accused of Killing 2-year-old Daughter Now Diagnosed with Autism

Texas Death Row Inmate Seeks Clemency; Accused of Killing 2-year-old Daughter Now Diagnosed with Autism

A prisoner facing execution has made a plea for clemency, claiming that his autism played a role in his wrongful conviction. Robert Roberson III has been on Death Row for more than two decades, convicted for the tragic loss of his two-year-old daughter.

The 57-year-old individual was convicted of the murder of Nikki Curtis in their residence in Palestine, East Texas, back in 2003. The verdict was primarily influenced by a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome (SBS), which has since been widely discredited.

Roberson’s defense team argues that his perceived lack of emotion at the time of Nikki’s death, along with the disputed medical theory, should lead to the dismissal of his conviction. On January 31, 2002, Roberson hurriedly took Nikki to the hospital, stating that she had fallen out of bed due to feeling unwell.

Nikki was admitted with significant head injuries and bruising on her chin, cheek, and jaw, along with a subdural hematoma. According to the Daily Star, a nurse described her as appearing “limp and blue.” The hospital staff became suspicious of Roberson’s lack of concern and the seriousness of Nikki’s injuries, prompting them to alert the authorities.

Now, after over twenty years, a shift in scientific consensus has led his attorneys to file an appeal, persuading even the lead detective who testified against him to reconsider the guilty verdict.

After careful consideration, the jury, along with the prosecutors, determined that Roberson was accountable for Nikki’s tragic demise. It was determined that the cause of death was due to shaking, rather than a fall. As a result, Roberson has been sentenced to death.

Roberson’s behavior, which was initially viewed as lacking remorse by the police, has taken on a different perspective following the disclosure of his autism diagnosis by his legal team while he was in prison. The hospital staff perceived his seemingly indifferent response to his daughter’s emergency as a lack of emotion, leading them to suspect him of deception because he couldn’t explain her injuries.

During the days leading up to her passing, Nikki had been feeling under the weather and sought medical attention at an emergency room. She was prescribed Phenergan and discharged.

That night, she slept beside her father, who woke up to discover her lifeless. Upon receiving reports of a critically ill child being admitted, retired detective Brian Wharton swiftly made his way to Palestine Hospital. Roberson was apprehended by Wharton shortly after Nikki’s passing, even before the post-mortem examination could determine the cause of death.

Roberson had a history with the law, having been involved in burglary and theft in the past. He had also violated his parole prior to the tragic loss of his daughter.

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