WINCHESTER — Lemuel Lee Roberts is accused of killing his ex-wife Kaitlin Nichole Roberts on Saturday.
Nearly 10 years earlier, he terrorized his former girlfriend, but got a slap on the wrist.
Despite abducting and assaulting the woman on Feb. 24, 2010, and on April 24, 2010, Roberts received a five-year suspended sentence in 2011 for the first incident and a 2½-year sentence with all but six months suspended in 2013 for the second incident.
The victim said on Wednesday that she was shocked and disappointed by the light sentences and believed it was due to Roberts testifying in 2011 to a federal grand jury that he sold cocaine to his attorney, Paul H. Thomson.
The 31-year-old woman, who now lives in Florida, said she was told Roberts was going to do substantial prison time.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It’s like a slap on the wrist. And now he’s murdered someone in the same situation.”
Thomson, Winchester commonwealth’s attorney from 1986 to 2001, has since been disbarred. He pleaded guilty in federal court in 2011 to four felony federal tampering charges and misdemeanor possession of cocaine. He received a 38-month sentence and was released in the spring of 2013.
He says he wasn’t prosecuted for the accusations Roberts testified about.
“Normally, if they’re charging you based on what somebody testifies about in a grand jury, you’re going to get consideration,” said Thomson, who represented Roberts in the assault and abduction cases involving the woman. “But I don’t think he got any credit because I wasn’t charged with anything.”
Roberts, 31, of Frederick County, is accused of killing his ex-wife in Frederick, Md., where her body was found in a roadway around 2 a.m. The SUV in which Roberts allegedly fled the scene was found empty and on fire about 90 minutes later in Frederick County, Virginia. Roberts was arrested at his home in the 100 block of Oakmont Circle in Frederick County later that morning and has been charged with first-degree murder. On Monday, he waived his right to an extradition hearing. He was being held without bond Wednesday night at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center on Fort Collier Road. He is awaiting extradition to Maryland.
The victim from the 2010 incidents said Kaitlin Roberts’ murder brought back memories of her nightmarish experience with Roberts. She said they started dating in August of 2009. She said Roberts told her he was going to college and working full-time, but she said he wasn’t working or going to college and was dealing drugs to support himself. He has a pending drug charge locally.
The woman said when she broke up with Roberts in February of 2010, she went to the home they shared to get rent money he promised. She found her clothes bleached and her furniture destroyed and Roberts hiding in the house. She said Roberts tried to abduct her, but she ran out of the home. Police were called, and Roberts was arrested.
On April 24, 2010, Roberts rammed the woman’s car in Winchester, pulled her into his vehicle, beat her unconscious and took her to the Red Roof Inn in the county. The woman recalled waking up in a hotel room with her head on a bloody pillow and Roberts sitting at the foot of the bed telling her she’d gotten what she deserved for leaving him.
The woman said she had bruises covering her body, chipped teeth and a head injury.
Roberts’ car had gotten a flat tire when he rammed her car. When he left the hotel room to get it fixed, the woman fled, hid in a hotel bathroom and called police. After his arrest, she said Roberts continued to stalk her online despite getting no-contact orders against him, which partially led to her decision to leave the area.
The woman said she feels bad for Kaitlin Roberts, 31, who married Lemuel Roberts in 2016 and had two children with him. They divorced in 2018, but were living together when she was killed. Roberts’ sister said on Monday that her brother had been going to couples counseling, and a neighbor said the two were staying together to raise their children.
The victim from the 2010 incidents believes Robert could have easily killed her.
“If I wasn’t smart enough with how I got away, that would’ve been me,” she said. “I just think in his mind he thinks it’s OK to do the things that he did.”
In the year before Kaitlin Roberts’ death, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called 12 times to the home she shared with Lemuel Roberts, according to Sheriff Lenny Millholland. Four of the calls, between Nov. 8-10, were for domestic disputes. Because there was no evidence of violence and neither party wanted charges filed, Millholland said in an email that no one was arrested.
“We arrest the aggressor if they can be identified. If there are no physical signs, or no witnesses and no one admits to doing an assault, we send them to the magistrate to see if they can get a warrant or protective order,” he said. “Many don’t want to go forward.”
Embarrassment, concern over children, fear, financial concerns and love/hate relationships are some of the reasons victims in long-term, abusive relationships don’t leave their abusers, according to Donna Hogan, criminal justice coordinator with The Laurel Center in Winchester, a nonprofit group that helps domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
Hogan, who has worked with hundreds of victims since being hired in 1987, said it’s easy for the public to wonder why victims endure long-term abuse. She said each case is unique and victim/victimizer relationships are often complicated.
“We’re talking about human beings and feelings and emotions and an intimate partner, someone you have cared about and maybe have children with,” she said. “It’s definitely not a cut-and-dry situation.”