South Lake Tahoe attorneys prepare for challenging trial for 20-year-old murder |

South Lake Tahoe attorneys prepare for challenging trial for 20-year-old murder

William Ferchland
Nevada Appeal News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – As both sides agree a Jan. 10 trial date will be pushed back, deputy public defender Ken Bonham and assistant district attorney Hans Uthe have been involved in one of the most difficult criminal cases of their legal careers.

Bonham represents Ulysses Roberson, a man accused of killing his 4-year-old son, Alexander Olive, 20 years ago in a Tahoe Keys home. Roberson was extradited from a Washington state prison to face his charges in El Dorado County.

Bonham, who has been an attorney for more than 30 years, said he works daily on the case, including coming into the office on weekends.

About 3,000 pages of reports and other documents are tied to the case, as well as physical evidence, such as photographs. Alexander’s body was never found, so if the case goes to trial, the prosecution will rely on circumstantial evidence in its effort to convince a jury that Roberson killed his son.

“It’s the most I’ve seen,” Bonham said of the amount of evidence.

Uthe said he has upwards of six boxes of paperwork related to Roberson. If the case makes it to trial, Uthe expects to call between 30 and 40 witnesses, which would double the amount called on the Lisa Platz case.

Platz was convicted in 2003 for killing her 9-year-old daughter, Rebbeca Aramburo in September 2001 at Campground by the Lake.

Bonham has filed several motions to dismiss the case, including one that focused on the process of extraditing Roberson, 55, from a prison in Walla Walla , Wash., where he was serving time on a rape charge.

The most recent motion for dismissal filed in El Dorado County Superior Court centers on the length of time that has passed since the alleged crime, and when charges of first-degree murder with special circumstances of torture and racial bias were levied against Roberson.

Alexander Olive was white, and Roberson is black.

Roberson faces life in prison if convicted. The prosecution previously dropped an option to pursue the death penalty.

“We believe the Constitution provides for speedy trial and due process,” Bonham said, “and if the time between the crime and the filing is too long we say it’s a prejudice to our client.”

While Bonham is assisted by a paralegal, Uthe will have a co-counsel of deputy district attorney Peter O’Hara plus help from other members of the office.

“When we brought him down, we were committed, and nothing has changed,” Uthe said. “He can throw all the motions and all the claims and writs. He didn’t do anything we didn’t expect him to do, and we’re there until the end.”