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156223 - People v Brian Keith Roberts

The People of the State of Michigan,


Heather Bergmann





(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)



(Kalamazoo – Bridenstine, P.)


Brian Keith Roberts,


Erin Van Campen





A jury convicted defendant of felony murder and first-degree child abuse. The victim was his two-year-old son, who suffered a brain injury after defendant pulled the child’s legs out from under him, causing the child to fall back and hit his head. Defendant filed a motion for new trial, alleging that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance by failing to adequately investigate the medical controversy surrounding abusive head trauma in children and by failing to call an expert witness at trial to support the defense theory that the child’s injury was the result of an accident rather than intentional abuse. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that counsel had not rendered ineffective assistance and denied the motion for new trial. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that counsel had rendered ineffective assistance. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on the prosecution’s application for leave to appeal to address whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that defendant was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel.  Strickland v Washington, 466 US 668 (1984).