Man claims he can't remember killing girlfriend

Abraham Roberts is accused of shooting Agnes Yarlee to death

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

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

Roberts himself took the stand Friday, letting the jurors hear his side of the story. His explanation about what happened to his girlfriend Agnes Yarlee was very different from other witness testimony.

Roberts got emotional and teared up while on the stand. He said he and Yarlee got into an argument over the kids not cleaning up after themselves in their apartment. Contradicting what Yarlee's family testified to yesterday, Roberts said it was actually Agnes Yarlee who grabbed the gun from their bedroom. Roberts said he tried to calm her down and get the gun back, but during the scuffle, that is when things went wrong.

"I'm trying to snatch the gun out, that's when I pull the gun, the gun automatically went off, it went off between us," Roberts said. "At that time we both yell, we both yell, and I just lost it."

Roberts said he had been drinking during the day while he and Yarlee were traveling to Minnesota and then back to Iowa. Roberts claimed that after the first gunshot was fired, he completely blacked out and did not remember anything else. He said the next thing he knew, we woke up in a parking lot. He then began to drive, unsure of his location, and ended up in International Falls, Minnesota.

Roberts said the past year has been extremely difficult for him, because it is hard for him to hear police say that he killed his girlfriend.

"I'm so sick and tired of hearing this, if their questions, and if this, what happened, if this, if this, if this, for the past 11 months," Roberts said.

The prosecution said it is not that Roberts cannot remember what he did, he just does not want to remember. Roberts, however, continued to say that he had no clue what happened that night.

Friday morning, jurors heard for technical testimony from a criminalist with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Bullets and cartridge cases were shown to the jury, as the experts explained why they believe Roberts' gun fired the bullets that killed his girlfriend, Agnes Yarlee.

That investigator, Victor Murillo, compared the "microscopic markings" of the bullets found at Roberts' apartment to "test" bullets, saying the markings looked the same. Murillo also said there is no mechanical safety on that gun. But the defense and the prosecution sparred over whether Roberts was trying to set it off.

"To figure out the combination, unlock it, take it off and fire it, it would take some thought and contemplation to do that, is that true?" asked defense attorney F. Montgomery Brown. Murillo responded, "Yes."

Assistant Polk County Attorney Mike Salvner engaged in a back-and-forth with Murillo. "Is it fair to say that it would take some thought and contemplation to do that, is that true?" Salvner asked. Murillo responded, "Yes." Salvner: "Thought and contemplation to aim a gun?" Murillo: "Yes." Salvner: "And thought and contemplation to pull the trigger?" Murillo: "Yes."

The defense tried to lower the charge against Roberts to Manslaughter, instead of First Degree Murder of even Second Degree Murder. They tried to get a verdict straight from the judge claiming the State did not have enough evidence to prove Roberts is guilty. The judge denied that motion.

The trial will resume on Tuesday. Stay will Local 5 for full coverage. You can also follow Local 5's Orko Manna on Twitter @orko_manna for live updates from inside the courtroom.


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