Flint Journal, December 4, 1998

Boy recalls terror of little brother's slaying
By Paul Janczewski, Journal Staff Writer

FLINT-- An 8-year-old Flint boy, in testimony Thursday, recalled a morning of terror as he watched his mother's boyfriend punch, slap and beat his 3-year-old brother to death.

The older brother of the dead child, Derrious "Pib" Kemp, said during a preliminary examination for Frederick D. Robertson that the man beat his brother repeatedly after the youngster had wet the bed.

"He started whupping him" with a television cable cord "all over his body," the boy said during the hearing before Flint District Judge Michael D. McAra.

Robertson showed little reaction as the boy quietly recalled the graphic details of his brother's beating death on Nov. 18.

Robertson, 29, of Flint is charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The boy, a third-grader in a Flint school, said Robertson, who is also called Burt, asked Derrious if he had wet the bed.

When the boy said he had, a morning-long beating began in their Yorkshire Drive apartment in northeast Flint, the 8-year-old said.

The boy said he was cleaning dishes in a kitchen and reading a math book as Robertson beat his brother in several different rooms of their apartment.

When Derrious was unable to get up after being slapped and struck with the cord numerous times and began slumping down, saying he was tired, the boy said Robertson grabbed his brother by one leg and dragged him up the stairs.

"His head was bumping on the stairs," the boy said. The abuse continued and after Robertson poured water on the boy to revive him, the boy said his mother, Mildred Gibson, returned home.

The boy said his mother began crying when she saw Derrious and wanted to take him to the hospital, but never did.

Robertson eventually left the house, he said.

The boy said he and his brother were beaten in the past by Robertson and his mother, and the bruises he had on his face caused him to miss school.

Later that day, Zanobia L. Blocker, a neighbor, said an uncle to Derrious asked her to telephone police because the boy was dead.

A police officer said the boy, who witnessed the beating, was "terrified" when he was interviewing him later that day. The hearing was postponed until prosecutors can obtain the autopsy report and summon the pathologist to testify.

Both assistant Genesee County Prosecutor Richmond M. Riggs and Charles A. Grossman, and attorney representing Robertson, believe the autopsy report to be crucial to the case.

Police said a preliminary report indicates Derrious died of blunt trauma to his body, suffered a broken neck and had bruises and abrasions from head to toe. Police said some of the injuries were old.

But Riggs said the investigation is continuing and more charges could be filed.

Robertson is being held without bond in the Genesee County Jail.

According to court records, he has several prior felony convictions on drug charges, probation violation and prison escape, and was on a lifetime probation at the time of his arrest.

Child Protective Services took away Gipson's 14-month-old son in August after he received burns on his fingertips.

The boy has been staying with an aunt, as has the 8-year-old who testified at the Thursday hearing.

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