'Diamond Kitties' trial reset to give defense more time

Jury selection had been set to begin on Monday.

ATLANTA – The trial for the man accused of holding several young women hostage in a Sandy Springs mansion has been reset until a later date.

Kenndric Roberts is facing 15 felony charges stemming from human trafficking and false imprisonment accusations by multiple women, including six counts of false imprisonment, six counts of trafficking person for labor or servitude and two counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin on Monday, but Roberts' attorney, Mike Maloof, said that he needed more time for his client to receive a fair trial.

"It would be very hard for me to say I'm properly representing Mr. Roberts," Maloof said. "He has asked me to ask for a continuance."

Evidence was turned over the defense attorney 10 days ago -- which is normal for a trial -- but the amount of evidence made it difficult for Maloof to build his case, he argued.

"It would take 30 or 40 hours just to go through some of the videos in this case," Maloof said. "The discovery is voluminous. I haven't had time to vet the witnesses to see if they have criminal histories." 

Maloof said the state turned over a list of more than 80 witnesses and thousands of pages of documents. After visiting Roberts 14 times at Fulton County Jail, Maloof said more visits were needed.

"At present he hasn't seen all of the evidence against him, he has not been able to go through all of it," Maloof said. "The judge started going through it and realized this was a much larger trial than we anticipated."

The state asked for the trial to go forward as planned. 

"We have expended tremendous resources both within the district attorney's office, the Sandy Springs Police Department, the FBI, DEA, the GBI, thousands of pages of discovery have been served to Mr. Maloof, within statutory discovery deadlines, within court order discovery deadlines, we have served 83 witnesses on the defense and we are prepared to go forward," said Fulton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Irina Khasin. 

In the end, Judge Todd Markel sided with the defense and granted the delay.

"Because I don't want to have to do this twice, I don't think I have any real choice," Markel said.

A new trial date hasn't been set, but Maloof said he expected it could begin in late summer or realy fall.

BACKGROUND:

Roberts was arrested by Sandy Springs police after one of his alleged hostages, a 20-year-old mother, called 911 back in March and told police she and seven other women were being held against their will inside the Strauss Lane home.

Roberts allegedly called the women his “Diamond Kitties.”

INSIDE | Sisters of Struggle: Being a ‘Diamond Kitty’

"It's a house of full of girls and... if I try to leave, he’ll try to kill me," the woman told the 911 dispatcher.

AUDIO | Terrified 20-year-old makes desperate call from million-dollar home

The women said Roberts asked them to work at strip clubs to help get the company off the ground then coerced them into giving him their earnings each night, and threatened to kill them and their families if they left. In some cases, the women alleged that Roberts obtained fancy cars using their names and credit.

EXCLUSIVE | Alleged human trafficking victim: ‘I was just a little puppet'

When police arrived at the home on March 7, they found eight women—at least six being held against their will. With the assistance of the FBI, Sandy Springs police arrested Roberts.

In late March, a Fulton County judge dismissed four of the six counts of false imprisonment and all human trafficking charges against Roberts during his arraignment and preliminary hearing. The judge did find probable cause for false imprisonment and weapons violation charges and set an $80,000 bond.

The next day, a Fulton County grand jury indicted him on all charges that a judge dismissed. They also added a charge of criminal street activity.

PHOTOS | Kenndric Roberts in court

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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