From across a Chester County courtroom, Rodney Roberson watched David Desper’s every move.
Roberson noticed, he said, how Desper walked with his head down, how he avoided eye contact, how he appeared — at least in Roberson’s mind — to show no remorse.
What goes through a father’s head as he sits feet away from the man accused of killing his daughter?
“That’s the man who shot my daughter, my baby girl,” Roberson said Thursday. “I was just trying to see into his mind.”
Roberson’s opportunity to do so Thursday was brief. About 8 a.m., Desper, the man accused of fatally shooting Roberson’s college-bound daughter, Bianca, in a June road-rage attack, waived his preliminary hearing before District Judge William D. Kraut.
“All this means is that we agree that this case can move to the Court of Common Pleas,” said Daniel McGarrigle, Desper’s attorney.
McGarrigle declined to discuss what went into the decision or to elaborate, saying he did not think it served anyone involved to litigate the case in the press.
“This is a tragic case. No doubt about it,” McGarrigle said. “My heart goes out to the family.”
Desper will be held for trial in Chester County, with a formal arraignment scheduled for next Thursday.
This was the first court appearance for the 28-year-old Trainer man since murder charges were filed against him last month.
Bianca’s father previously said his family would attend all court proceedings. On Thursday, he said about 100 supporters — including Bianca Roberson’s mother, Michelle, and her brothers — were present, ready to sit through a preliminary hearing.
Rodney Roberson said he did not care how this case worked its way through the court system.
“You know, I just want justice for my daughter,” Roberson said. “I want what’s due to him for what he did to my daughter.”
What “was due,” Roberson said he believed, was a guilty verdict and the maximum sentence.
Bianca Roberson was killed June 28 as she drove from a shopping trip in Exton to her family’s home in West Chester. Authorities say Roberson and Desper were jockeying for position on a stretch of Route 100 in West Goshen, where two lanes become one, when Desper killed her with a shot to the head.
Roberson’s green Chevrolet Malibu veered off the road, coming to a stop against a tree, as Desper sped off toward Delaware County, sparking a three-day, multicounty hunt for the man in the red pickup truck.
Desper surrendered in the early hours of July 2 at the Media office of McGarrigle, who at the time declined to comment on why Desper turned himself in or whether Desper had spoken with authorities.
Court documents have made no mention of a statement by Desper, but authorities in Chester County have repeatedly said they believed this was a random crime.
Inquiries at the homes of Desper’s relatives have gone unanswered. Friends described Desper as a “cool, calm guy” who was not prone to anger or violence. One friend said Desper did regularly keep a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic handgun in the center console of his truck, but he was certain Desper had never used the gun outside of a shooting range.
At Bianca Roberson’s funeral, her brothers spoke of “the coward who stole their sister away from them,” according to relative Loretta Porter.
Roberson, a recent graduate of West Chester’s Bayard Rustin High School, was headed this fall to Jacksonville University. Last month, both schools announced scholarships in her name.
Desper faces charges of first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime, and reckless endangerment. Denied bail, he has been held at Chester County Prison since his preliminary arraignment.