Is Tracey Roberts heroic mom or a shrewd killer?
She started a Web site calling him a deadbeat dad and alleging that he may have been the second intruder. He told police that she tried to kill him - twice - but these and other allegations were dismissed by law enforcement as bogus he-said, she-said claims.
After she moved to Omaha, she told police in 2009 her Lexus had been broken into and Michael Roberts was likely to blame. Investigators found no evidence of a break-in but learned she had carried out an elaborate scheme to assume a fake identity.
She'd altered her divorce decree to give herself a fabricated maiden name - Sophie Edwards - which she then used to obtain a driver's license, a new Social Security number and a passport. She pleaded no contest to welfare fraud in Nebraska and was convicted of vehicle licensing perjury in Iowa, but she avoided jail. Federal passport fraud charges are pending.
For all the complexity swirling around his client, defense attorney Scott Bandstra said her defense in the murder case will actually be simple for jurors to understand.
It's about self-defense, about a mother protecting her children from intruders, and an investigation that failed to find the truth. He said he looks forward to telling "Tracey's story - and by story I mean her statement of what happened." He will present a theory about who the second intruder could be.
"Dec. 13, 2001 was a nightmare for Tracey. The nightmare is not over."
Now 45 and facing life in prison if convicted, she has been held on $1 million bail at the jail in Sac City. She's getting support from her fiancDe in Omaha and her parents, who live up the road in Rembrandt.
Her father, Bernard Richter declined comment, saying reporters write about defendants without thinking about "their poor family." He said he knows from experience: he's a retired Chicago homicide detective.
At the courtroom in Fort Dodge, Smith will be joined by an experienced prosecutor with the Iowa Attorney General's office. The county attorney said he hopes to get justice for Mona Wehde - and then quickly put the case that has consumed his life behind him.
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