St. Johns County murder suspect denied request for new defense lawyer

Man awaiting trial in 2010 death of 45-year-old woman

Joseph Roberts appears in court on charges of first-degree murder.
Joseph Roberts appears in court on charges of first-degree murder.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The man charged in the 2010 killing of a 45-year-old Ponte Vedra Beach woman in 2010 was denied a request for a new lawyer.

Joseph Roberts is charged with murder in the death of Brittany Tavar (pictured below).

According to the state attorney's office, Roberts complained to the judge his current lawyer is too busy for him with 10 capital cases, hasn't paid enough attention to his case, has not been visiting him in jail to talk about the defense, hasn't filed a motion to throw out his confession, and has been slow requesting discovery evidence from prosecutors.

The judge denied his request.

Roberts' next court date is in January. No trial date has been set.

In November 2012, a new charge was added against Roberts, stemming from an incident in September in which deputies said he assaulted fellow St. Johns County jail inmate Richard Edsall, who apparently had become a witness in the case.

Roberts was arrested in Seattle three months after Tavar's killing. He confessed to beating Tavar with a hammer and stabbing her, deputies said.

Roberts, a transient who had been living with Tavar, had made a DVD for her to use in a court case in which she was involved, an ongoing dispute with a neighbor.

Tavar and Roberts got into a fight over the DVD, and he killed her, deputies said.

Investigators found Tavar's body after they said Roberts confessed to killing her.