Girl's guardian pleads not guilty to child abuse, murder charges

March 28, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

The guardian of a 15-year-old girl who was found dead, beaten and emaciated late last year pleaded not guilty yesterday at a hearing in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Satrina Roberts, 31, is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse in connection with the death of Ciara Jobes, whose body was found on Roberts' kitchen floor in Southeast Baltimore. She weighed 73 pounds.

Roberts was also charged with possession of a deadly weapon -- a belt and electric cord that police say were used to beat Ciara. She was also accused of starving Ciara and forcing her to use a hole in the wall as a bathroom.

"Satrina admits to corporal punishment," said her lawyer, Warren A. Brown. "But not to starvation and the rest. It will be very interesting to see what that autopsy says."

Ciara's autopsy report has not been completed by the medical examiner, said Brown and prosecutor Julie Drake.

However, Drake said, she is confident the report will show Ciara was killed.

"The medical examiner was real clear with the police that this is a homicide," Drake said.

Roberts had been Ciara's guardian for three years. She was given legal custody to protect the girl from a neglectful mother, a former drug user who died of cancer and acquired immune deficiency syndrome in July.

The defendant's relatives declined to speak with a reporter yesterday, but previously said that Roberts is manic-depressive and schizophrenic.

Ciara was assigned to Patterson High School last fall but never attended.

Roberts' trial is scheduled for July 23 before Baltimore Circuit Judge Shirley M. Watts.

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