April 10, 1987 - May 15, 1999

In Loving Memory

Of

Andria Nichole Brewer


Karl Roberts, 35, was convicted in May 2000 by a Polk County Circuit Court jury of capital murder in the May 17, 1999, rape and strangling of his 12-year-old niece, Andi Brewer. Roberts during the July 2000 sentencing phase of his trial told the court, "I want to die." Her body was found May 17, 1999, two days after disappearing from a relative's home in Hatfield in Polk County. Her body was found near Cove in a clear-cut area. Roberts' defense attorney argued he suffered a head injury when hit by a dump truck at age 12 and lost 15 percent of his brain, including a portion tied to the ability to understand consequences for one's actions. Prosecutors argued Roberts knew right from wrong. After his sentence, Roberts waived his rights to any appeals. A judge, however, said his sentence would automatically be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The high court in April reviewed Roberts' case and in a 6-1 decision upheld the death sentence. January, 2000: Last July, Ann Brewer went to the secluded clearing where her 12-year-old granddaughter, Andi, had been raped and strangled just a few months earlier. "I thought maybe I could find something of hers," she explains, her voice cracking. "I just wanted to find something." Her granddaughter, Andria Nichole Brewer, is dead. And the man accused of the killing was her uncle, a revelation that has left the family shattered. Karl Roberts, 31, is charged with capital murder and faces the death penalty if he's convicted. His trial was supposed to begin today. But much to the disappointment of Andi's many relatives, it was postponed.


New evidence offered recently by the defense prompted prosecutors to file a motion Friday asking for an 11th-hour continuance. Judge Gayle Ford of the 18th Circuit Court West granted the request at a hearing Monday morning in Mena. A second trial date will be set within a few days. The new evidence includes medical and forensic information regarding an old head injury of Roberts', which is expected to be a key portion of his defense. "They just now themselves got it," Prosecuting Attorney Tim Williamson said of the defense team. It's been only 9 months since the girl's death, he said, adding, "This has been a rather fast setting. We just need more time to look at it." Defense attorney Darrel Blount fought the delay, saying the prosecution knew about this new information at the beginning of January. "We say that we advised the state of it, but the state disputes that," Blount said. He wouldn't elaborate on what type of new evidence was found, only confirming that it does have something to do with Roberts' head injury, which occurred 20 years ago when he was hit by a dump truck while riding his bicycle down a county road. "We're a little bit let down," Blount said of the trial delay. "We're all dressed up with no place to go."


Despite the new findings and the trial's postponement, prosecutors say they remain confident they have a solid case against Roberts. The family is less inclined to speculate about the outcome, so certain are they of Roberts' guilt. This has been not only a tragedy, but a betrayal of the deepest kind, they say, by a man who ate several times a week at their home and played the drums in the family's garage band. Roberts married into the rambunctious, close-knit Brewer clan about a decade ago. He is the husband of Ann Brewer's daughter, Trina. He became a suspect almost immediately when Andi's siblings described to authorities a truck similar to Roberts' that arrived at their home around the time Andi disappeared. The girl, a blond-haired tomboy who was also a bit of a homebody, was frying chicken for her siblings when the pickup pulled up to the house on May 15, 1999, the children said. They assumed it was their Uncle Karl's and that Andi must have gone with him over to their grandparents' home, which was just across the street. But Andi never came back to finish dinner. Her stepmother wasn't home, and her father, Greg, was fishing for catfish in a nearby pond. When he returned, the little girl was still gone and no one, including her grandparents, had seen her. After a panicky, two-day search for Andi, investigators arrested Roberts, saying he had confessed to raping and killing his niece. Roberts then led authorities to a littered clearing at the end of a logging trail, where he had left Andi's body, investigators say.


Ford has ruled that Roberts' confession will be admissible when the case goes to trial. Meanwhile, Roberts' family members, particularly Ann Brewer and her husband, Charles, have been left in a strange and uncomfortable position. Firmly convinced that their son-in-law is responsible for Andi's death, they now despise him. But there is their daughter, Trina, to consider. She still talks to her husband and visits him, Ann Brewer says. So the topics of Andi's death and the pending trial are never mentioned. The mother and daughter who once talked about everything now frequently suffer through strained periods of silence. That's why the family is so eager to see the case resolved, one way or another, says Rebecca DeMauro, Andi's mother. Although DeMauro was divorced from Greg Brewer several years ago, she remains close to her former in-laws. She and her ex-husband, who have both remarried, managed to keep their split amicable for the sake of Andi and her 11-year-old sister, Melanie. But Andi's death and the charge against Roberts have made get-togethers uncomfortable and phone calls awkward, she says. Greg Brewer still talks to his sister but is wracked with guilt because he wasn't home at the time Andi vanished, family members say. And several relatives are angry with Trina for supporting her husband and his defense. "It's going to be a daily battle to be in the same room with him," DeMauro says, referring to when the case goes to trial. "Just to breathe the same air as him is almost a disgrace to Andria."


Trina, at her mother's house just a few days before the trial was originally scheduled to start, declined to comment on the allegations against her husband. Her parents say she, too, believes her husband is guilty but is hoping he will be spared the death penalty for the sake of the couple's 2 young children. Both the family and investigators remain baffled by the case. They say Roberts never showed much interest in his nieces and nephews, although he was frequently at the elder Brewers' home. Authorities say Roberts gave them no reason for raping and killing Andi, adding that in his statement, Roberts said only: "Something just hit me. I knew I was going to go by and pick up Andi. I couldn't stop." His court-appointed defense team sought to have him declared incompetent at a hearing last fall, citing a low IQ. The judge ruled otherwise, basing his decision on psychiatrists' evaluations of Roberts and some higher-than-average test scores. The defense is expected to focus on the head injury Roberts sustained in 1980, with the argument being that severe bruising of his brain may have left him susceptible to violent episodes, defects or mental illness. Family members don't buy this theory and are upset that they will have to wait even longer for Roberts' trial because of new evidence pertaining to the old injury.


 Prosecutors and authorities have been tight-lipped about the case, the family says, so only the trial itself will reveal to them what really happened during the last hours of Andi's life. Roberts' case file, which normally would be an open record, was sealed by the court immediately after his arrest. Prosecutors say this was done because the case is inflammatory. Sheriff Mike Oglesby says security at Roberts' trial will be tight, just as it was at his hearing. Six to eight law enforcement officers will be stationed around the courtroom, and anyone entering will have to pass through a metal detector. "It's such a high-profile case, OK? And the family has a right to have some hard feelings," the sheriff says. "It's to protect them just as much as anybody else." Roberts' defense attorney says the extra security will definitely be needed when the case goes to trial. "There's always concerns when you have a client accused of a crime of this nature, especially in a smaller county," Blount says. "Everybody knows everybody else and everybody else's business. And a lot of people are related." At this point, neither side has asked for a change of venue. DeMauro says most of her family also will be present when Roberts is tried.


Had the trial started this week, Marc Klaas and Colleen Nick also were expected to attend, she says. Klaas' daughter, Polly, was abducted during a slumber party at her home in Petaluma, Calif., and killed. Klaas is most remembered for the last moments of the trial, when Polly's killer told a packed courtroom that the girl's last words were about her father molesting her. An outraged Klaas had to be restrained, and horrified spectators quieted. Nick, whose daughter Morgan was abducted from an Alma ballpark in 1995, also was planning to attend part of Roberts' trial, DeMauro says. Nick and Klaas met DeMauro through a national group that helps the parents of missing or slain children. No matter when the trial is held, Andi's sister, 11-year-old Melanie, won't be there. She made the trip last fall from their home in Oklahoma to stay in town with her mother during the pretrial hearing. Melanie didn't attend the proceedings. Even so, she didn't do well afterward, DeMauro says. The girl has been in counseling ever since Andi's death and is still grappling with grief in her own way, DeMauro says. "After the hearing, when she went back to school, it was so bad that her teacher called me. She said Melanie was carrying her sister's picture around and not paying attention in class." Melanie has also been upset by the publicity her sister's death has received. It's hard to find normal again when things are anything but, DeMauro explains.


Each trip to Arkansas has been a struggle for the child. "She was so mad at me because I had done an interview with the newspaper here [in Oklahoma]," DeMauro recalls. "She asked, 'Why did you have to tell everybody here our story? Now everybody knows.' "  July, 2000: Wearing prison whites and a half-smile, convicted murderer Karl Roberts gave his wife and parents a small wave after entering the courtroom. Moments later, he took the stand and told the court he wants to waive his appeals so that his execution can be carried out as quickly as possible. "I want to die," said Roberts, who was convicted May 19, 2000 of raping and strangling his 12-year-old niece, Andi Brewer. "Are you telling me that you're asking that the death sentence be carried out?" asked Polk County Circuit Judge Gayle Ford. "Yes," Roberts replied. After yes-and-no questions, the judge said it's clear Roberts has the right to waive his appeals. "But it appears to me that to some degree we're in somewhat uncharted territory," Ford said. This will be one of the first cases to follow a course set by the state's high court in December 1999, when justices decided that they would begin reviewing all death penalty cases for "egregious and prejudicial errors." This means that while Roberts has the right to waive all avenues of appeal in both state and federal courts, he will have to wait until the Arkansas Supreme Court has examined his case in full before an execution date can be set, Ford ruled after the 20-minute hearing.


The Supreme Court's decision to begin reviewing all death penalty trials developed from the capital murder case of Robert A. Robbins, who was sentenced to die for the Nov. 4, 1997, death of his ex-girlfriend, Bethany White of Jonesboro. Robbins had waived his right to appeal his sentence, saying he wanted to die, and an execution date was set for April 12, 1999. But the Supreme Court stayed the proceeding after it agreed to consider a petition by Robbins' mother, Bobbye Jean Robbins, who sought to intervene in her son's execution. Justices ruled that she had no standing. They also decided, although divided over the question, that they would begin reviewing all death penalty cases as a matter of course. At the time this ruling was issued, Arkansas was one of only two of the 38 states that had the death penalty that did not have a mandatory review of all such cases.


Roberts' request to waive his appeals was one of the first subject to the Supreme Court's mandatory review, said his defense attorney, Buddy Hendry of Little Rock. Hendry said he'd heard of one other case since the justices' 1999 ruling in which the condemned has sought a waiver. Asked why his client called him and said he was ready to die, Hendry said he couldn't offer specifics, citing attorney-client privilege. "I just know that's his desire," he added. Roberts' parents and wife declined to comment after the hearing. Roberts' victim was his young niece, Andi, who disappeared from her grandparents' home on May 15, 1999, while cooking dinner for her siblings. Her small, nude body was found two days later after Roberts confessed to authorities and led them to the littered, secluded clearing where he raped and strangled the girl. Andi's family was baffled by Roberts' request Wednesday to waive his appeals. The relatives said they don't know what would have prompted him to seek a swift execution.


The case has created a rift in what was once a close-knit family, they say, and they haven't asked Roberts' wife, Trina, for the reasoning behind his decision. "Maybe it's guilt," theorized Andi's maternal grandmother, Ann Taylor. She left immediately after the hearing with Andi's mother, Rebecca DeMauro, and several other family members. They had planned a visit to the nearby cemetery where Andi is buried.  Rebecca DeMauro's Victim Impact Statement: "The effects this brutal crime has had on me and my family are devastating. We have not only lost trust, understanding, and the ability to forgive, but we have lost a precious gift from God, a 12-year-old little girl who captured the heart of every person she met. Andi was a beautiful person who did not deserve the evil that befell her. She was a kind, loving, gentle soul who loved children and wanted to be a schoolteacher when she grew up, but she has been denied that privilege. Because of this horrendous crime my daughter lost her life. She will never go to junior high or high school. She will never have a first date or a first kiss. She was denied her Senior Prom. Andi will never fall in love and get married. I will never hold my grandchildren from my first-born daughter because she is dead. I can only visit her at Six Mile Cemetery, where what remains of her is a five-foot headstone marked with her name. Twelve years is not living life to its fullest. Twelve years was only the beginning for Andi and she was robbed of a wonderful life. Andi was a modest child who would not have harmed a soul, once even compelling her stepfather, Kris, to go out in a thunderstorm to cover the neighbor's kennel with a plastic tarp because the dogs inside were getting drenched. Andi loved her life and was a happy well-adjusted child. She was a little girl whose smile and laughter demonstrated the innocence of who she was. I love and miss her desperately every day.


My thoughts are never far from her and weeping has become a daily occurrence. If only I could have done something to save her from the predator lurking in the family; but I didn't know. Now I have to live with thoughts and mental images of a crime so horrendous that even the toughest of law enforcement officers were brought to tears. I am tormented daily with thoughts of my little girl screaming for help with no one to hear her cries. I live nightly with the demons that torment my soul screaming to me that I was not there to stop this, that I couldn't help my daughter the one time in her life that she needed me most. This crime has crushed my family into the dirt of society. People are uncomfortable and refuse to mention the crime to us in fear that we might fall into a heap. Andi was part of me, my blood pumped through her veins, and now whenever I mention her people shy away from the subject. This crime has made us freaks and we did nothing wrong. We tried our best to raise a little girl to adulthood and give her a normal life. Her normal life ended on May 15, 1999, when she was abducted out of the privacy of her home, raped, and strangled. She didn't deserve that. My sentencing recommendation for the defendant is the death penalty. He gave up his right to live a full life when he made the choice to abduct, rape and murder a 12-year-old-girl. My lovely daughter wasn't given the chance to plead before a court of law for her life; instead she was brutally murdered. The defendant does not deserve the sympathy of the court. He is the one who destroyed the lives of many people, including that of his own wife and children. The only one who deserves sympathy is Andi; she has suffered the most. Justice will not be served if the defendant is simply given life in prison. That says to others that it is okay to commit brutal sex crimes against children. I wish each one of you here today could have had the privilege of knowing Andi. She was a wonderful human being who deserved to live. The defendant does not deserve life. We would all be better off if he were dead--the world would be rid of one more evil creature and the citizens of Arkansas would be spared the expense of housing and feeding a confessed child killer.


The death penalty is the only sensible solution in this case for the sake of all children, for the sake of the citizens of Arkansas, and, most of all, for the sake of Andi. My daughter deserves to rest in peace, and the death of her killer would warrant that."  UPDATE: The mother of the 12-year-old girl Karl Roberts was convicted of murdering says the state is offering relatives an outdoor tent on prison grounds for Tuesday's execution. However, they won't be able to watch Roberts' execution on closed-circuit television. Roberts kidnapped, raped and murdered Rebecca DeMauro's daughter Andria Nichole Brewer in May 1999. DeMauro has complained about a state law preventing her and other family from being in the room when Roberts is put to death. DeMauro also complained that the law only allows five family members to sit inside the Cummins prison near Varner and watch the execution on closed-circuit television. She said at least 30 relatives want to witness the lethal injection. Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler says the other relatives are welcome to enter the prison grounds, but they will be held at a tent set up for execution supporters at a road block. Customarily, the state sets up separate tents for supporters and protesters, but only the few allowed into the execution chamber and the television viewing room can actually watch. DeMauro says the tent further infuriated her. She said her mother, Brewer's grandmother, isn't healthy enough to sit waiting in the cold. Ann and Charles Brewer, Brewer's grandparents, said they hope Roberts' execution will mark a beginning of a healing process for them.


The couple said they won't attend the execution but will instead spend the day remembering their granddaughter, who would have been 16 years old. "The hugs (are what I miss,)" said Charles Brewer. "She would come up and wrap her arms around me. I miss that." Ann Brewer said she babysat Andria since she was a baby. "When you are that close and something bad happens to her, it's bad," she said. Andria's life was taken by Roberts, her uncle by marriage. The Brewers said they want nothing to do with him. Andria will be remembered by family and friends at a candlelight vigil at the governor's mansion Tuesday at 8 p.m.




UPDATE: Since his conviction, Karl Roberts said he wanted to die for the 1999 kidnapping, rape and murder of his 12-year-old niece. But he changed his mind hours before he was to have been executed Tuesday. Federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court accommodated him by granting a stay of execution even as prison guards prepared to escort the Roberts, 35, to his death. Roberts' lawyer Craig Lambert said that Roberts authorized the appeal 4 hours before he was to have died by lethal injection. Roberts was given the death sentence for the rape and murder of Andria Nichole Brewer, whose body was found 2 days after she disappeared from her relatives' home in Polk County. Lambert said that in all his discussions with Roberts, the inmate never brought up Andria or her family. Rebecca DeMauro, Andria's mother, said she felt re-victimized by the courts' decisions. Lambert now has 90 days to make a case to keep Roberts from execution. He said he thinks his client has a good shot at avoiding execution. Lambert said he will focus on Roberts' mental competency and the validity of a statement he gave police after the crime.


Andi - A beautiful life ended at twelve years old.


May 15, 1999 - the day the world stopped...

 

 

 

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