"not guilty" plea, 6-year-old, arraignment, Branson MO, Branson Police, burglary charge, court appearance, first degree murder, Forsyth MO, hearing, Jasmine Miller, John P. Roberts, Judge Eric Eighmy, Judge Tony Williams, Lindsey Phoenix, lured child, out on bond, photo, Probable Cause, reported missing, schools, snacks, strangulation, Taney County Jail, Taney County MO, Windsor Inn
Forsyth, Mo. — Accused murderer John P. Roberts, 55 of Branson, Mo., was arraigned this afternoon before 38th District Circuit Court Judge Tony Williams for the murder of 6-year-old Jasmine Miller, also of Branson.
Roberts, who was represented by counsel, pled not guilty to strangling the 6-year-old who was discovered dead under the bed in his room Saturday at the Windsor Inn in Branson.
Asked if this would be a death penalty case, Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Merrell told the Hill ’n Holler Review that this was an option and would be decided as the case progressed.
The probable cause statement filed by Branson Police said that Roberts lured the child into his room at the Windsor Inn by offering her snacks. Jasmine was reported missing early Saturday evening and soon after that was discovered by police in Robert’s room. Jasmine’s mother and step-father were staying at the Windsor Inn.
Police said Roberts was the sole occupant of room 155 at the Windsor Inn.
The next court appearance date set for Roberts is March 10 before Judge Williams. Roberts was currently free on bond on a burglary charge. His bond was approved on Feb. 17 by Judge Williams. The bond was reportedly posted by his brother. He is now being held without bond in the Taney County Jail in Forsyth.
Jasmine Miller apparently moved to the area on or about Feb. 11 when she transferred to the Cedar Ridge Primary School in Branson where she was a kindergarten student. School records show she previously had attended Mann Elementary School in Springfield, Mo.
The names of her parents have not been released by the prosecutor’s office in an effort to protect the victim’s family.
To view the probable cause statement for this case, click Roberts_PC_Statement.
Updates: Assistant Public Defender Lindsey Nicole Phoenix of Springfield, Mo., has been appointed to represent Roberts.
On March 3 the case was reassigned to Judge Eric Eighmy.
Lab tests in the autopsy of Jasmine are pending.
A motions hearing and criminal setting both are scheduled for March 12.
Update: On March 19 a defense motion to dismiss was denied, and criminal setting was rescheduled for 1 p.m. March 19.
— Hill ’n Holler staff writers