Not Guilty of Murdering Friend’s Brother : Anaheim Man Celebrates His Release

Times Staff Writer

After a jury found him not guilty of murder in the shooting death of his best friend’s brother, Keith Roberts enjoyed his first full day of freedom Tuesday since his arrest in October.

“He’s got a date tonight, and I think that’s great,” Roberts’ mother, Pamela Spangrud, said Tuesday. "(Last night) he had a few beers. That was the first thing he wanted to do.”

Roberts was found not guilty by an Orange County Superior Court jury in the slaying of John Valle. Jurors ruled Monday that Roberts acted in self-defense.

The shooting occurred Oct. 16 during a party at an Anaheim house that Roberts and friends had rented. Roberts, who was recovering from a herniated disk, was in his room when Valle entered. The two argued, Roberts ordered him to leave, and a fight began.


Roberts took out a .357-caliber magnum pistol and fired a warning shot into the floor. When Valle kept coming toward him, Roberts fatally shot him, he told police.

“I thought it was a case that shouldn’t have been filed,” said Roberts’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Brian L. Ducker. “This was as clear a case of self-defense as you will ever see. . . . It’s a travesty that he spent that much time in jail.”

Both Spangrud and Ducker said 5 months in jail, marked by a bout with pneumonia, hindered Roberts’ recovery from his back injury. Roberts was also threatened by friends of Valle, Ducker said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Melvin L. Jensen said he was not “terribly pleased” with the jury’s decision.


During the trial, Jensen argued against self-defense, contending that Roberts used excessive force and that he did not try to get help from people in the next room.

“He was armed with a .357 magnum, which you might say is an equalizer, and he was also bigger,” Jensen said.

Spangrud said her son’s first priority is to get medical treatment for his back ailment. Then, she said, he will try to renew his friendship with Mike Valle, the dead man’s brother.

“He (Roberts) really feels bad about John,” she said. “He knew the whole family, and he and Mike were very close. I think the two will make up because Mike knew what his brother was like. They all knew. He (John Valle) just wanted to cause problems.”