Sunday, May 6, 2007

No bail for woman charged in boy's death

By Larry Keller

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, May 03, 2007

WEST PALM BEACH — With the state attorney's office now seeking the death penalty against her, Tia Roundtree was ordered held in jail without bail on Wednesday for allegedly beating to death the 3-year-old son of her fiancé.

Roundtree, 28, of South Bay, had been free on $20,000 bail when she failed to appear at a routine status hearing in her case on April 11. She had moved to Texas to live with her family. When she learned a new arrest warrant was issued, Roundtree returned to Florida and turned herself in at sheriff's headquarters two weeks after the missed court appearance.

The state attorney's office has said it will seek the death penalty against Tia Roundtree, shown here at her first appearance on Feb. 5.

The case emerged at Wednesday's hearing, including the fact that prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty.

Associate Medical Examiner Linda O'Neil testified that her autopsy found that Kelvin died from multiple blunt-force injuries. Among other things, he had a rupture to his heart, a bruised spleen, a fractured skull and hemorrhaging around his pancreas, O'Neil said.

The injuries were all inflicted about the same time, O'Neil said, and Kelvin died in a matter of seconds or minutes at most.

Sheriff's Detective Debi Phillips said she saw marks above Kelvin's groin that were consistent with metallic circles on a belt that Roundtree said she used to "whup" the boy. She said the boy's brother, Telvin Jackson Jr., 7, told her that Roundtree beat Kelvin the night he died because he had soiled his diaper.

Roundtree has a 3-year-old son, who lived with her and Jackson and his two sons.

Roundtree's bail was revoked when she missed last month's court hearing. Her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Robert Fallon, asked Circuit Judge Krista Marx to reinstate it. Fallon said he told Roundtree she didn't need to return from Texas for what he called "a routine, perfunctory status check among many status checks. We knew exactly where she was."

He and Roundtree's bail bondsman said she and her mother kept in frequent contact with them after she went to Texas. Flying from Houston back to West Palm Beach "is a big expense for somebody who is indigent," Fallon added.

The defense attorney had no authority to unilaterally waive his client's court appearance since she had previously signed a document saying she would appear, Marx said.

When she went to Texas, Roundtree was arrested and charged there in a 2005 incident of allegedly failing to report income on her application for public assistance. Fallon said she applied for food stamps. That case is pending.

In denying Roundtree's request for a new bond, Marx noted that much had changed since her February arrest, including the fact that hers is now a death penalty case. With a pending felony charge in Texas and no ties to Palm Beach County, Roundtree must remain in jail, Marx decided.

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