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Arlington mom who cried rape gets five years in slaying

An Arlington woman's attempt to cover up her two-month affair cost her lover his life in 2006, and on Monday, a jury sentenced her to five years in prison for her role in the slaying.

Tracy Roberson's three daughters screamed in the hallways of the courthouse after State District Judge Louis Sturns read the sentence.

"You promised you would go and get my momma," Roberson's youngest daughter, Kyla, cried to her father. "You promised, Daddy, you promised."

As she walked out of the courtroom in a green jumpsuit, Roberson whispered to her husband, Darrell, "Take care of my kids."

Darrell Roberson, 39, did not talk to media.

Tracy Roberson was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter in the December 2006 shooting death of her lover, Devin LaSalle, 37. Darrell Roberson shot and killed LaSalle when he found the couple alone in LaSalle's truck and Tracy Roberson claimed she was being raped. A grand jury declined to indict Darrell Roberson in the shooting.

Tracy Roberson must serve two and half years before she is eligible for parole. She faced probation to 20 years in prison.

"The wrong person went to prison," said Jill Davis, Roberson's attorney. "Her husband was the shooter, and he shot because he was angry that his wife was having an affair."

Prosecutor Sean Colston said he thought the jury reached an appropriate sentence.

"I think a lot of people want to make this about Texas justice instead of the law and the facts," Colston said.

Testimony highlights

A brief affair: Tracy Roberson took the stand during the sentencing phase of the trial Monday to tell jurors about the two-month affair.

Roberson described herself as a battered wife trapped in a relationship with her high school sweetheart. Her lover, Devin LaSalle, was a good looking man who had a way with flirtatious words, she said.

The two met in a Wal-Mart parking lot in the fall of 2006. Roberson said she had seen LaSalle at the Wal-Mart, which is around the corner from Roberson's home, several times before he actually approached her. She testified that she told LaSalle that she was married from the beginning.

"I feel responsible," Tracy Roberson told the jury. She said she knew she should turn down his advances, but liked the attention.

Within weeks of exchanging phone numbers, the two were meeting at Della Icenhower Intermediate School in the Mansfield school district to pick up their children. While Roberson waited for her daughter Kyla in front of the school, LaSalle would pull up next to her and they'd talk. LaSalle's son Kendall, who was 10 years old at the time, attended the school.

Tracy Roberson testified that they had only two sexual encounters - once at Craven's Park and once at another park. She said both encounters happened at about 9 p.m., when her husband left for his nightly poker game.

The night of the shooting, Darrell Roberson had come home early because he couldn't reach his wife on the phone.

Defense attorneys also called relatives of Tracy Roberson who testified that she was in an abusive and controlling relationship with Darrell Roberson. They gave examples of previous abuse, including an incident 15 years ago when he pulled a gun on Tracy Roberson during an argument.

A son's last day with his father: Monday's punishment phase opened with LaSalle's son, Kendall LaSalle, on the witness stand. The boy was a student at Icenhower Intermediate School in the Mansfield school district when his father was killed.

Kendall, now 12, told jurors that his father had taken him to the Dallas Cowboys-New Orleans Saints football game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006, at Texas Stadium. The LaSalles had moved to Mansfield from New Orleans, and at the game Saints wide receiver Michael Lewis gave Kendall LaSalle an autographed jersey.

That moment moved Devin LaSalle to tears, his son testified.

"He said he was glad his kids could get the best in life," Kendall LaSalle told jurors. "All I could do is cry because I've never seen my dad cry over anything like that."

The Saints won the game, 42-17.

LaSalle died just hours later.

The crime

Darrell Roberson went to Dallas for a card game that lasted until the early hours of Dec. 11. He thought his wife was at their south Arlington home on Ivy Glen Drive with the couple's three children. But he called the house repeatedly before his then-7-year-old daughter answered the phone and told him her mother was outside.

When Darrell Roberson arrived home, he saw LaSalle embracing Tracy Roberson in LaSalle's pickup truck parked in front of the house. Tracy Roberson yelled that LaSalle was raping her. As LaSalle tried to drive off, Darrell Roberson fired his handgun four times into LaSalle's truck, striking him once in the head, according to testimony.

What about the husband?

In March 2007, a Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict Darrell Roberson on a murder charge in the death of LaSalle. Instead, the panel returned an indictment against Tracy Roberson on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, stemming from allegations that she recklessly caused LaSalle's death by falsely claiming that she was being raped, prompting her husband to shoot LaSalle.

Is this rare?

Legal experts at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Wesleyan University have said they'd never heard of a woman being indicted on involuntary manslaughter for making false claims that led to a homicide. But they said the legal theory appeared to be sound and that the husband was entitled to defend his wife if he thought she was being harmed.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.