Family of slain Johnston woman testify in court

Emotions ran high on day 3 of Abraham Roberts' trial

POLK CO. COURTHOUSE - The trial continues for the man accused of murdering his girlfriend inside a Johnston apartment.

Abraham Roberts is accused of shooting his girlfriend Agnes Yarlee to death in April 2017. Investigators say Roberts tried to run away to Canada before he was caught, arrested and brought back to Iowa.

Thursday was a very emotional day in court. Several of Agnes Yarlee's family members testified, describing the moment she was shot and killed. They say Abraham Roberts got angry -- and that is why he pulled the trigger.

Family members of Agnes Yarlee fought to hold back tears Thursday, testifying against the man accused of killing her. Loved ones packed the courtroom, as Agnes' sister Even Gababa described not being able to reach her on that April day.

"I called her twice I called here at 11 around 10:30 when we left the house," Gababa said. "I called her, she never picked up."

Family members say Agnes Yarlee and Abraham Roberts were traveling to Minnesota on April 15, 2017 to buy food from a specialty store. But they started arguing with each other when they got home that evening.

Agnes' mother Sarah Yarlee needed an interpreter to share her testimony with the jury. Sarah said the fight caused Abraham Roberts to get violent against Agnes, who Sarah sometimes calls "May," and threaten her life. Through her interpreter, Sarah said Abraham Roberts pushed her and went into his room. When he came back, he had a gun in his hand.

Sarah Yarlee also told Abraham Roberts to shoot her, instead of Agnes: "I told him to kill me," Sarah Yarlee said through her interpreter.

Agnes' 12-year-old daughter also testified. Cameras were not allowed to record the girl, but she said she and her brothers were coming home from the park when she heard yelling coming from inside the apartment. She said she stayed in the hallway because she was scared. That is when, she said, Roberts, "just put his hands up and he shot her," killing her mother Agnes.

The defense tried to get Sarah Yarlee's testimony thrown out because they did not think it was being properly interpreted. The judge, however, denied that motion.

Thursday afternoon, investigators with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, as well as officials with the Polk County Medical Examiner's Office also testified. They showed the bullets that were found at the scene, as well as photos of Agnes Yarlee's autopsy.

The trial will resume Friday morning. It is expected to continue through Monday. Stay with Local 5 for all the latest developments. You can also follow Local 5's Orko Manna on Twitter @orko_manna for #LIVE updates from the courtroom.


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