Ex-gang member attempted murder trial begins

Posted at 8:02 PM, Sep 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-30 22:02:51-04

Attorneys gave their opening arguments Wednesday in the attempted murder trial against well-known community activist Terrance Roberts.

If convicted, Roberts faces life in prison.

He is accused of shooting recognized gang member Hasan Jones in front of a Boys and Girls Club that Roberts helped bring to the Park Hill neighborhood. The shooting happened in 2013.

The trial will involve testimony of a state senator whose office is in the neighborhood, and video footage from a videographer who was in the area and the city's HALO cameras.

Denver District Attorney Alma Staub told the jury that Roberts shot Jones as he was turning to run away. She said Jones was not armed, and Roberts actually placed a knife on-top of him after he was shot.

"Witnesses will tell you that Terrance Roberts stands over Hasan Jones, who is lying on the ground, having been shot, stands over him and shoots him two more times," said Staub. "That thing that the defendant throws down at Hasan Jones, is a knife."

Marshal Seufert, Roberts' public defender, argued rumors had been spreading that the Bloods were turning against Roberts. He was accused of being a police informant, and said his client believed Jones was there to kill him.

"Mr. Jones comes out, calls him a snitch and a b**** in front of everybody -- doing that in front of other people, in gang language, is essentially telling him you're free to be killed," said Seufert.

Jones, who was paralyzed in the shooting, was expected to testify on Wednesday afternoon.

Our partners at the Denver Post reported Jones declined to take the stand because he didn't want to work with the people putting him in jail. The judge on Wednesday ruled him in contempt of court and sentenced him to six months in jail.

Jones is currently being held in the Arapahoe County Jail. He's charged with felony child abuse causing death after 2-year-old Ny'Ari Hines was killed in August 2014 in Aurora. She was his girlfriend's daughter.

Roberts was once a gang member himself, but had seemingly turned his life around and was working to do good for the community. He started an anti-gang youth organization called Prodigal Son and helped rebuild Holly Square after an arson, putting in basketball courts and helping bring in a Boys and Girls Club, which was just about to open when the shooting happened.

"I'm a developer," he told 7NEWS before the trial began. "I love working with children and I love building playgrounds. That’s really all I do. I don’t sell drugs, I don’t want to commit any crimes."

Because of Roberts' criminal past, he's being tried as a habitual offender and facing more than 100 years behind bars.