Hancock County prosecutor calls killing "justified homicide"

Elizabeth Roberts
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A prosecutor is defending his decision not to charge a woman for killing her husband. Hancock County Prosecutor Michael Griffin says Elizabeth Roberts stopped an incident of mass gun violence last week.

Today we're getting a clearer picture of the weapons Gary Roberts had in his basement and the moments that led up to his wife taking a loaded gun and shooting him.

Griffin released a five-page explanation Friday backing up his decision to drop murder charges. In it, he thanks Elizabeth Roberts for saving lives.

On September 27th, officers arrived at the Roberts' Hancock County home where Gary Roberts had barricaded himself inside with his wife. He apparently had a vast arsenal of fully automatic weapons - a collection worth an estimated $1 million, including numerous assault weapons and a military grade .50 caliber machine gun.

Elizabeth Roberts was concerned about her husband's state of mind and wanted the sheriff to bring him in for a mental evaluation. When the sheriff's department still hadn't arrived after half an hour, she explained to her husband that she had called them. Gary Roberts allegedly threatened to kill as many officers as he could when they arrived, and he also called a friend to say the same thing.

Griffin wrote: "Elizabeth wanted to save lives, so if saving lives meant shooting the man she loved, a man already determined to die in a confrontation with law enforcement, she was prepared to do it. Elizabeth was left with one of the very worst prospects imaginable - killing her spouse.

Under Indiana law, Elizabeth committed a justified homicide, meaning that while it was an intentional killing, it was justified by being done in the defense of others, and Indiana law states that she should not be charged with a crime.

Our community owes Elizabeth Roberts a debt of gratitude that it will never be able to repay."

The prosecutor also describes Gary Roberts' descent into a pattern of unstable and dangerous behavior in the previous weeks leading up to his death. According to the prosecutor, Roberts' behavior had changed during that time, and included drinking binges, prescription drug abuse, multiple car wrecks and threats to kill himself.

Gary Roberts also had aggressive episodes he couldn't remember, threatened gun violence at a pharmacy that did not have prescriptions ready for him and, for the first time in his life, on September 19, was charged with crimes, resisting law enforcement as a class A misdemeanor and disorderly conduct as a class B misdemeanor.

In a statement released by her attorney Patrick Badell, Elizabeth Roberts says it has been a difficult time and appreciates all the support she's received from family and friends.

She also commends Griffin, his staff, the Hancock County Sheriff's Office and its deputies "for the respect they showed her investigating this ordeal."

Roberts also said she won't be making any comments on the case.

Eyewitness News asked Ivy Tech Law Enforcement expert Dr. Richard Weinblatt to weigh in.

"This was not a criminal mastermind plot. This was not a conspiracy. It does look like her fear was reasonable," he said.

Prosecutor Griffin says while he has the law to back his decision for no charges, it doesn't compare to the decision made by Elizabeth Roberts to kill her husband of 31 years.

"We are very confident we made the right decision in his case," said Griffin.

So just days ago a murder suspect in the killing of her husband is now essentially being hailed a hero by the Hancock County Prosecutor.

Read the full statement from the prosecutor here.