Jury Deliberates in Roberts' Trial

The jury in the Tyree Roberts' murder trial will be back in the courtroom on Monday. They're preparing for a second day of deliberations, after meeting for hours this afternoon without reaching a verdict.

Roberts is charged with shooting and killing Beaufort County Sheriff's deputies Lance Corporal Dana Tate and Corporal A.J. Course on January 8, 2002. If he's convicted, he could get the death penalty.

This afternoon, both sides offered their closing arguments at the Beaufort County Courthouse. Roberts, also known as Abdiyyah ben Alkeblunayahh, pleaded his case to the jury for three hours. "It has not been established who initiated the shootings," he stated. "It has not been established Mr. Alkebulanyahh pulled the trigger." He continued to imply the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office planted evidence to frame him for the murders and insisted the evidence presented by the prosecution did not prove he killed Deputies Tate and Coursen. "There is not one single fingerprint on the gun from Mr. Alkebulanyahh," Roberts said.

However, the prosecution told the jury a different story of events. "He hid in that closet, he ambushed them, shooting until he killed Tate," said Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh. Murdaugh wrapped up his case by reminding the jury of the countless pieces of evidence, including the murder weapon, the magazine from the rifle, a stick found near that rifle, and blood from inside the murder scene that he says link Tyree Roberts to the murders.

After the jury heard both sides, they began their deliberations. Before the jury broke for the night, they requested to hear Tyree Roberts' testimony again. They are expected to hear that tape Monday morning.

In the meantime, the victim's families and friends are anxiously waiting for the verdict, one that many expected soon after closing arguments. " I have tried open and shut cases that have taken 10-12 hours to find them guilty," explained Murdaugh, "I have tried marginal cases that took a 1/2 hour. I don't put any reading on that."

Deliberations get underway again tomorrow morning. Watch THE News on WTOC and visit wtoc.com for the latest on the trial.

Reported by Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com