Former assistant principal indicted on murder charge in connection with teacher's killing

State to bring Ernest Joseph Roberts' case before grand jury


MIAMI – Former Miami Norland Senior High School Assistant Principal Ernest Joseph Roberts was back in court Friday morning as the state officially announced he was being indicted for murder in the killing of teacher Kameela Russell.

Roberts was sitting in the courtroom in his red jumpsuit, but his attorney wasn't available, so his arraignment was pushed back until next Tuesday. 

But the state did announce it has indicted him on a second-degree murder charge.

The case began in May when Russell was reported missing. 

Russell, who was a test proctor at Miami Norland Senior High School, was a longtime friend of Roberts' and they even worked together until February when Roberts was transferred to another school. 

Russell's body was found floating in a canal on May 25 near Roberts' home in Miami Gardens.

Police said surveillance video shows her driving up to Roberts' house and walking inside.

Authorities said Roberts was later seen coming out of the home alone and driving away in Russell's car.

While Roberts was charged with second-degree murder, the charge may be bumped up to a first-degree once the state goes in front of a grand jury.

"The government can file charges up to second-degree murder on their own, just like they would a traffic ticket," Miami-Dade County Judge Alberto Milian said. "If they are seeking a first-degree murder indictment, they have to go in front of a grand jury. And what they're telling us on the record is that they intend to go to a grand jury and, I guess, seek a first-degree murder indictment. The grand jury will make its own decision."

During the investigation into the case, police spoke to a school employee who worked with Roberts. 

The employee said Roberts asked him to get rid of Russell's car and made odd statements about killing an intruder with a baseball bat.

Russell is survived by her 6-year-old and 15-year-old daughters, as well as other relatives.

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