The man who shot his estranged wife and step-daughter outside a Rockdale County daycare last year will spend the next 50 years in prison after pleading guilty Friday.
Terrence Sherrod Roberson, 37, received 65 years, to serve 50 years, for two attempted murder charges and a firearms charge for the Sept. 20, 2011 incident.
Roberson shot his estranged wife, Covington resident and CJ Hicks Elementary teacher Kimaya Motley (formerly Roberson), 38, three times and her 10-year-old daughter Corrine Williams was shot once in the head as the two arrived at the Little Mountain Christian Academy on Hwy 155 near the Henry County line before dawn, waiting for the bus to take Corrine to school at Lorraine Elementary. Both victims were in court Friday along with several character witnesses who described Roberson as a caring, humble person who left his small town of Glenville to join the Navy and returned a different person.
The defense did not dispute the facts surrounding the shooting but made an unsuccessful attempt to convince Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation that Roberson had a physical illness which could have caused him to commit the crime.
However, the defense did not claim mental illness or insanity. A psychiatrist hired by the defense and a psychiatrist hired by the court found Roberson to be competent to stand trial and to know right from wrong, said District Attorney Richard Read after the hearing.
Two of the defendant's childhood friends along with his mother took the stand Friday in an effort to describe how Roberson had changed when he got out of the Navy and how his personality and behavior grew increasingly bizarre in the months prior to the shooting.
"He was different in a lot of ways," the defendant's mother, Floseline Roberson, told Judge Nation. "He didn't talk as much sometimes and said he didn't feel like doing anything. He would sweat profusely, he wouldn't hold a conversation long and sometimes he would snap. He was hardly sleeping. He seemed to be aging before my eyes."
During her victim impact statement on Friday, Kimaya said her husband became mean and abusive when his carpentry business began to suffer in 2009, two years after the couple married. She said he suffered from sarcoidosis, a chronic inflammatory disorder that was untreated.
Roberson was arrested in January 2010 and charged with family violence battery, simple battery and cruelty to children following an incident in which the couple was arguing and Roberson pushed his wife and then hit and kicked his 13 year step-son for attempting to intervene. The couple separated and reconciled once before Roberson's erratic behavior led Kimaya to file for divorce. Roberson briefly entered a psychiatric clinic before returning to his parent's Glenwood home, where his mother said he was withdrawn and restless in the weeks preceding the shooting. It was revealed in court Friday that Roberson had also gone to the daycare with a gun a month prior to the shooting and Kimaya was able to calm him on that occasion.
One month later, Roberson took his mother's car and a handgun his father kept hidden in their Glenwood home and drove to Conyers to shoot his wife and stepdaughter. Kimaya said her husband shot her in the mouth and twice more in the neck and shoulder after she fell to the ground. He then shot 10-year-old Corrine Williams in the head and fled the scene. Williams was airlifted to Egleston, where she was in a coma with a traumatic brain injury and fractured skull. Her mother said she had to learn to walk and talk again and still struggles to understand how a man, who by all accounts was a good father to her, could have caused so much pain and turmoil.
"Each of us deals with our own inner turmoil," Kimaya Motley told the court Friday and asked that the court impose the maximum sentence allowed. "We need to send a clear message to other abusers and send a catalyst of hope to others." Kimaya, a teacher at CJ Hicks Elementary, said her jaw was wired shut for five months and she still has one bullet that lies inches from her heart. She said her son was hospitalized with deep depression following the shooting and her daughter still suffers from the effects of being shot in the head. Corinne is undergoing two brain surgeries, the second being the installation of a prosthetic skull to replace her own shattered skull.
While Judge Nation commended Terrence Roberson for pleading guilty and avoiding a lengthy and emotional trial, he said he did not feel an illness caused Roberson to shoot his wife and step-daughter. "This is just one of those unexplainable things of human behavior and human emotion," Judge Nation told the court Friday. "It is a terrible tragedy to everyone. As a community we simply cannot tolerate this kind of conduct. It is fair to say this gentlemen has saved the family a lot of turmoil and agony by standing up and saying he did it. We do need to deter this sort of conduct. We take these matters very, very seriously."
After sentencing Terrence Roberson to 50 years in prison, Judge Nation addressed the victims.
"It takes time, patience and a lot of effort, and you have to keep your spirits up and have a positive attitude," Judge Nation told 11-year-old Corrine Williams as she sat with her mother in the front row of the courtroom. "And take one day at a time. It is miraculous that both of you lived and came through this thing. It's just a bad, bad situation."
"All this happened out of the adult world. You didn't cause it, you didn't have anything to do with it. It's not your fault," he said to her before dismissing the court.