When we first reached out to interview Shawn Roberts, the subject ofthis week's cover stor
y, it was through the lawyer who represented him in a felony drug case related to the 2007 death of his girlfriend. After three years, during which time crucial evidence went missing and three other people close to Roberts died, Harris County prosecutors were taking him to trial.
His awyer, Mark Bennett, later told us that Roberts just wanted to put the trial behind him (he was acquitted) and move on.
But as more sources leveled more allegations, we wanted to hear a "no comment" directly from Roberts, if that was indeed his decision.
After we contacted him on Facebook, he chastised us for going through Bennett and gave us the impression that he didn't know we had wanted to interview him in the first place. When we asked Bennett if he even told Roberts, the former gave us an absolutely baffling response: He cited attorney-client privilege, saying he couldn't tell us what he may or may not have imparted to Roberts.
That's when Roberts told us, via Facebook, "if that article runs in its current form I can assure you your employers and owners will be upset bc I assure you The Houston Press will be in litigation. While I can't practice law, at least for a year...I have many friends who do. All of who are some of the best in the State [sic]." (He also explained that he was considering suits against other media for "irresponsible works of journalism." This was followed by a message stating "Btw, I really like The Press, you have the perfect audience for this story. A story of injustices, oppression, retaliation. Broaden your horizons. An expose. I am a gold mine of information. You have the courage to print what I tell you, and I'll make you famous [sic]."
We never got the "story of injustices, oppression, retaliation." But we did get a look of utter surprise and disappointment when we told Roberts that, no, we wouldn't buy him lunch.
We cut that interview short, because Roberts would only speak off the record, meaning we couldn't print anything he told us. As we walked out, Roberts asked us for a ride home. It was astonishingly sad. Roberts once drove fancy cars and wore expensive suits. Now he seemed to have nothing.
But in January 2012, Roberts can start practicing law again, and those accused of crimes can once again put their futures in his hands. He has the chance to rebuild a once-promising career. Unlike his former girlfriend, his mother, his old rehab acquaintance and his wife, all cold in the ground, he has the chance to start over.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.