After almost a day full of hearing motions at the Dawson County Courthouse, Senior Judge David Emerson ruled Friday on the foremost motions related to the cases of the Dawsonville man accused in Kaleb Duckworth’s 2021 death.
Emerson wrote to revoke Daniel Roberts’ bond in the 2021 case and declined to reinstate the defendant’s older bond from 2019. The judge also denied bond for the case involving the latest allegations against Roberts.
The judge’s succinct order stated that Roberts posed a risk of committing further felonies, listed the alleged offenses that occurred after 2019. The order elaborated that Roberts violated the December 2021 bond by going places where he wasn’t allowed to go, per his bond conditions.
DCN will provide updates on Roberts’ other motions heard Friday when those rulings become available.
Documents for the oldest case alleged that after getting in a verbal disagreement with one victim, Roberts hit them while leaving the parking lot of Thompson Creek Park on Oct. 23, 2019.
After being arrested the same night as those alleged offenses, Roberts was charged on Oct. 24 with two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime and carrying a concealed weapon.
On Oct. 25, 2019, Roberts was released on a $20,200 bond.
He was indicted in June 2021 on the charges from the 2019 case. As part of his bond conditions, he was not supposed to violate any laws while those charges were pending.
About a week before the fight at Applebee’s, Duckworth and Roberts had a confrontation during a truck meet at the Ingles in Cumming, according to testimony from a former DCSO and current DA office investigator and that investigator’s video interview with Roberts, which was played at the court hearing.
Tensions flared further when a friend of Roberts, Tyler Dybendal, supposedly posted a Snap on Snapchat about Duckworth’s truck being “white trash,” to which Duckworth is said to have replied with a picture stating “go back to Ohio lol,” according to the investigator’s testimony.
That Snap is the focus of another warrant which Roberts’ defense wants suppressed.
It supposedly spurred Dybendal and Roberts going to the Applebee’s parking lot on July 25 so Dybendal could fight Duckworth.
During his interview with the investigator, Roberts also revealed that Dybendal had been butting heads with Duckworth over the latter’s ex-girlfriend, who was then with Dybendal. After arriving at the Applebee’s, Dybendal and Duckworth allegedly fought but were broken up.
Roberts initially said that Duckworth walked up to him and asked what he was going to do before supposedly grabbing at his collarbone area, causing Roberts to react by punching Duckworth. Later in his July 26 interview, Roberts admitted that he might’ve instead punched Duckworth for “getting up in [his] face and running his mouth,” with the investigator later insisting that “someone being up in your face and grabbing are different.”
Roberts said in the taped interview that he and Dybendal went to the latter’s house initially because he knew “the cops would be coming” to his house.
While Dybendal has been named as allegedly being tied to events preceding Duckworth and Roberts’ Applebee’s fight, he has not been charged in this case. Dybendal does have a separate case pending in Dawson County.
Roberts has been indicted on two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and aggravated battery for that case.
The indictment for that case alleges that Roberts punched the younger Dawsonville teen with a closed fist, causing serious brain damage. After the fight, Duckworth was taken to a hospital with severe brain trauma and died on July 27.
Following Roberts’ 2021 arrest, bond for the 2019 case was subsequently revoked on Aug. 31, 2021. Court documents from that time cited that he violated conditions of the 2019 bond by allegedly committing new offenses. Bond was likewise initially denied in the 2021 case, and he was indicted on those later charges in October.
In December, the court reinstated his bond in the earlier case and set a $100,000 bond for the newer case. The condition to violate no laws was a bond provision in both cases.
That bond was paid, and Roberts was released from DCSO custody.
Assistant District Attorney Pete Lamb explained during a recounting of Roberts’ alleged acts that there were other occasions for which he has not been charged since 2019. That includes a trespass warning issued to Roberts for allegedly stalking an ex-girlfriend.
Then this year, before the May alleged offenses, Roberts supposedly followed Duckworth’s parents, Amanda and Tommy, down Lumpkin Campground Road, banging on the side of the truck he was driving and yelling at them. Lamb later clarified that he’d just learned about that alleged offense on Thursday.
Roberts also allegedly ran another friend of Duckworth’s off of Ga. 400 in April and tailgated another mutual friend of that person and Duckworth later that month. Then, on May 1, Roberts allegedly harassed a friend of Duckworth’s again and forced that person off of the road, too.
Later in May, Roberts was booked on the felony charges related to the May 13 and May 19 incidents.
Roberts allegedly threatened a teenage victim on May 13 near Dawson Village Way North and Ga. 53, according to a Dawson County Sheriff’s Office warrant. He is accused of telling the victim to come to his residence, where he, Roberts, would “give him the same thing he gave his buddy,” referring to Kaleb Duckworth.
Roberts allegedly committed the aggravated assault against the same victim on May 19 along Dawson Forest Road, according to another DCSO warrant.
He was purportedly driving his pick-up truck when he entered the victim’s lane of travel and caused that person to swerve in order to avoid a collision. It appeared difficult to tell in the video evidence shown Friday whether or not Roberts swerved toward the victim enough to constitute aggravated assault.
In June, Roberts was indicted on one charge each of aggravated assault and terroristic threats.
Since being arrested on May 20, Roberts has remained in custody at the Dawson County Detention Center.
Roberts’ defense attorneys have filed a motion to prevent their client’s prior alleged acts from being introduced at trial.
Lamb explained that he expected the defense to use the argument that Roberts never intended to cause the injury that would later prove fatal to Kaleb Duckworth and asserted the state would need prior acts to disprove that argument.
However, with multiple law enforcement vehicles pulling up on scene within minutes of the fight at Applebee’s, Weaver argued that the state doesn’t need the extra alleged acts to prove their case on the murder charge.
“To bring in an entire life of accusations would rob him of that fair trial,” Weaver said.
According to Roberts’ bond conditions, he was supposed to only go between work and home. A colleague of his testified Friday that when he and Roberts were together, they didn’t even deviate from their work routes to go through a drive-thru line at a fast food restaurant.
However, Lamb presented a starkly different narrative, pointing out that Roberts had allegedly harassed and intimidated friends and family of Duckworth, including in the three alleged instances where Roberts supposedly ran a friend of the victim off of the road.
Dawson County Victim Services Coordinator Katie Strayhorn, reading a letter from Tommy and Amanda Duckworth, shared that “not only other family but the entire community is at risk with the violence he (Roberts) continues to show.”
Lamb elaborated that the defendant had a pattern of “injecting himself in others’ disputes” which did not occur in front of the Roberts’ home and that the defendant “goes out of his way to track people who are associates [of Kaleb Duckworth] and terrorize them.”
Roberts’ father, Bobby, shared concern for he and his son’s safety during the hearing, saying people have been driving by their house up to a couple times per week “shooting birds” or shouting epithets, including allegedly the victim of the May 13 and 19 incidents.
Defense witnesses also mentioned the locally-placed #justiceforkaleb signs and social media posts often threatening to fight Roberts or worse over the last year as being problematic.
Roberts’ father added that he reported the drive-by visits, sharing that deputies sometimes said there was nothing they could do, although there is a case number that exists from one incident.
Weaver followed up by saying that “what’s truly happening in this case” is a “community divided,” given the number of people associated with Duckworth that are allegedly harassing, intimidating or instigating his client.
The lawyer later added that Roberts has “called police and did everything he could to get the harassment to stop.”
Court dates to hear the 2021 case’s immunity, change of venue and other motions have tentatively been set for Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2022.
The defense’s motion to change venue is proposed to take between four to five hours, with the immunity motion projected to take about twice as long due to several expected witnesses.
“It’s like peeling back an onion, so that number [of witnesses] could go up,” Weaver said.