Abraham Roberts First Degree Murder Trial Underway

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POLK COUNTY, Iowa  --  The first degree murder trial of a Johnston man accused of shooting and killing the mother of his child is now underway in Polk County.

Abraham Roberts is accused of shooting and killing Agnes Yarlee in their home last April.

As the trial began, the defense did not question that Roberts pulled the trigger, but argued that this was not first degree murder. Instead, the defense is setting this up as a crime of passion, asking the jury to find Roberts guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. They say he was drunk, and killed Yarlee in a fit of rage.

"I submit to you that the evidence will prove what happened in that apartment was a horrible voluntary manslaughter event, and at the conclusion of the trial I will ask you to find Mr. Roberts guilty of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter," said defense attorney Montgomery Brown.

Meanwhile, the state is trying to prove that Roberts committed the act with premeditation and intent. The prosecution used its opening statement to try and paint Roberts as calculating and in control of his actions.

"The defendant took a loaded, 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun, semi-automatic handgun, pointed it at Agnes, pulled the trigger six times, striking her four times in the chest, and one time directly on the top of her head, killing her instantly," said prosecutor Michael Salvner.

As part of its argument, the prosecution says Roberts cleared a round that jammed in the gun and resumed firing. However, the defense argues this did not happen.

Witness testimony is expected on Wednesday as the prosecution begins to make its case.

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