Just hours before jury selection was set to begin, a judge granted a continuance on Monday in the capital murder trial of an Arlington man accused in the death of a 2-year-old girl in 2018.
Judge Lee Gabriel granted the motion from attorneys Michael Campbell Jr. of Fort Worth, Andrew Wilkerson of Dallas and Shehzad Shaikh of Hurst, who are representing 42-year-old Derick Roberson.
The new trial date is Nov. 4 in 297th District Court in Fort Worth.
“The state just filed a new case a few weeks ago, the same charge, but the language is different,” Campbell said Monday. “We needed time to review it.”
Gabriel is the new judge for the trial after Judge David Hagerman, who presides in the 297th District Court, recused himself last week from the case.
Roberson is accused of failing to intervene in the physical abuse that a woman inflicted on a 2-year-old girl who died in 2018 at an Arlington hospital.
Roberson and Shamonica Jackson had custody of 2-year-old Aniyah Darnell in 2018. Jackson is accused of abusing Aniyah and causing her death. Jackson also is charged with capital murder in the case and her trial is pending.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty for Roberson or Jackson.
Roberson and Jackson began caring for Aniyah in August 2018, but Jackson later told Arlington police she had grown frustrated with the child for going to the bathroom in her clothes. According to an affidavit obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2018, Jackson hit the child with a belt and her hand to teach the girl “a lesson.”
Jackson told police the girl had a bad injury, described as a burn, on her rear, but she had not taken the girl to the hospital. Instead Jackson tried “home remedies” to treat the injury and continued to discipline the girl by hitting her, according to the affidavit.
The girl was found unresponsive at the Las Lomas Apartments at 816 Timberlake Drive in southeast Arlington. Police arrived at the apartment about 1:30 a.m. and found a group of people trying to leave in a car.
Aniyah died about 2:15 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2018, in the emergency room of Medical City Arlington, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. A forensic pathologist determined the cause of Aniyah’s death was battered child with dehydration and its manner was homicide.
During the period in which they had custody of Aniyah, Roberson was aware that Jackson repeatedly struck the girl, and gave her a bath that caused severe burns to her buttocks and foot, prosecutors allege.
Roberson failed to intervene in the physical abuse that Jackson inflicted on Aniyah, the state contends. After the belt beating, Roberson did not seek medical attention for the girl and did not perform CPR on her, prosecutors allege.
Two other children at the home were put into the custody of Child Protective Services, police said.
Jackson had been caring for Aniyah for her biological mother, whom police didn’t identify.