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A jury convicted Roberts of capital murder in January 1997. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in May 1998. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
In an interview from death row, Roberts said that he was high on cocaine when he killed Velez. "I was stoned out of my mind," he said. Lost in an unfamiliar place, he saw Velez and thought, "this guy is going to take me out of the city. So I kidnapped him and his vehicle ... I guess he decided at the last minute he didn't want to be stranded, or thought he could overpower me," Roberts said.
Roberts called police after the drug high wore off, and waited to be picked up because he realized that drugs had complete control over him. "This was someone I'd gotten off the street. Who was it going to be the next time? A little woman? A little kid?"
Roberts said that he first tried cocaine at age 10.
As his execution date approached, Roberts asked his lawyers not to file any last-minute appeals on his behalf. He told a reporter that the had no desire to die, but he saw his execution as a way to end the loneliness and isolation of death row, which he described as "23 hours a day in a cement box."
"I killed the guy they said I killed," he said. "There's no question about that ... So if you've got to spend the rest of your life like this, and if you're like me and know the Lord, then today's a good day to go."
Roberts was upbeat and animated as the execution procedure began. "I've been hanging around this Popsicle stand way too long, I want to tell you all," Roberts said in his last statement. "When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head, and rock 'n' roll me when I'm dead." He then added, "I'll see you in Heaven some day." He then told the warden he was ready, and the lethal injection was administered. As the drugs took effect, Roberts smiled and mouthed "I love you all" to his friends. He then said "I've got to go," and took his final breath. He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 4 May 2005. Minor punctuation correction made on 27 April 2005.
Sources: Texas Attorney General's office, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Associated Press, Huntsville Item.