Life without parole is the sentence for a 25-year-old man who killed his mother and teenage nephew with a samurai sword in the victims’ north Minneapolis home, only to be nabbed trying to elude capture in Iowa.
Ishmael W. Roberts was sentenced Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court after being convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the deaths of Beatrice Wilson, 57, and her grandson Peter, 14, on Oct. 29, 2012.
The bodies were found in separate upstairs bedrooms in the home in the 1200 block of 12th Avenue N., where Roberts once lived along with numerous other relatives. A sheath for a samurai sword was recovered in the home.
Police say Roberts entered the home in the middle of the night, wearing a black stocking cap and sunglasses, and killed the two.
He was captured that evening in Waterloo, Iowa, after stealing his mother’s car, then rolling it over while trying to flee police.
Beatrice Wilson immigrated to the United States from Liberia more than 10 years before her death. In addition to raising her grandchildren and other relatives, she was a nursing assistant at the Minneapolis Veterans Home and a devout churchgoer.
There was some question whether Roberts was mentally competent to stand trial and aid in his defense. When charges were filed, County Attorney Mike Freeman said there had been indications that Roberts was mentally ill.
Roberts was found guilty of the murders on April 14 by Judge Kathryn Quaintance. On July 7, she ruled that the defense failed to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that Roberts didn’t understand the nature of his actions, clearing the way for his prison sentence.