Written by Chandler Vaughn
SACRAMENTO, Calif.– Article: “Ryan Roberts Wrongful Conviction”.
RYAN ROBERTS– It’s ridiculous to think that a person could end up in prison for murder simply because he smoked a few cigarettes at a local ballpark and then left the butts on the ground. In the case of Ryan Roberts, convicted of murdering Sacramento teen, Jessica Funk-Haslam, this may have been all that happened, thanks to questionable use of California’s Prop 69.
SACRAMENTO TEEN MURDERED – In the interest of truth and justice, and the safety of our community, please imagine yourself in this position:
- What if (at a public park) someone picks up your discarded cigarette butts and re-lights them…leaving their DNA mixed with yours?
- What if that same person…is found dead in the park later that night?
- What if you have an explanation for your cigarette butts/DNA being found at the park (crime scene), but detectives don’t believe you? What if the jury doesn’t?
RYAN ROBERTS WRONGFUL CONVICTION- To tell the story of Ryan Robert’s wrongful conviction, I must first tell you the story of a beautiful Sacramento teen, Jessica Funk-Haslam and her violent murder. To tell Jessica’s story, I must also tell of two Lawless relatives, two brothers: Reed and Thomas, and a man named Johnny Richardson.
JESSICA FUNK-HASLAM MURDER- If you can’t see a meaningful connection between Ryan Roberts and Jessica Funk-Haslam, or understand a motive, you’re not alone, it’s because there isn’t one. Remembering that, let me start from the beginning of this nightmare, March 6, 2012.
THE BODY / THE MURDER- On March 6, 2012 a woman jogging through Sacramento’s Rosemont Park discovered the dead body of a young girl inside a baseball dugout. The girl was determined to be 13 year-old Jessica Funk Haslam, a somewhat rebellious teen, who was last seen alive the night before, with friend, Savannah Lawless.
Jessica Funk-Haslam had been violently murdered. Strangled. Bludgeoned. Stabbed in the neck.
SACRAMENTO CO. SHERIFF– Sheriff’s investigators were called to the scene. Evidence was collected, questions were asked, video footage obtained. Slowly, a story (with motive and witnesses) began to emerge. A story that would later be recanted.
…A story that had NOTHING to do with Ryan Roberts.
ROSEMONT PARK- As the original story goes, Jessica Funk-Haslam left home the afternoon of her murder, against the wishes of her mother, Tara Haslam. Allegedly, Jessica ended up at Rosemont Park with a new friend named Savannah Lawless who lived nearby with her mother, Christina Lawless, at a dodgy motel called Vince’s. The sun set around six o’clock that evening, March 5, 2012.
CHRIS REED WITNESS STATEMENT- The details of the night started taking shape in a statement made by Chris Reed, a friend of Savanna’s mother, Christina.
Allegedly, that evening, Savannah called her mom, who then handed the phone to Chris Reed. Chris Reed stated that Savannah asked for help and asked him to bring a blanket to the park. According to his original statement, by the time Chris Reed arrived at the park, there were already three individuals standing near Jessica’s body:
- Savannah Lawless
- Christina Lawless
- Johnny Richardson
Chris Reed further stated there were two other people standing by.
CHRIS REED/JOHNNY THOMAS RECANT- Chris Reed told the account of what happened to his brother, Johnny Thomas. Both brothers made official statements containing the three names mentioned above. Then, they literally scratched out the names and changed the statements to say “two girls and a guy”.
…At trial, the two statements were recanted entirely, with no explanation.
Here are a few other details about Savannah Lawless and Chris Reed that should be considered…
- Savannah Lawless was given immunity for her testimony.
- Originally, and allegedly, Savannah Lawless implicated Chris Reed as having been with Jessica the night before.
- Chris Reed was captured on video in the motel parking lot carrying a blanket under his left arm, as indicated in his recanted statement.
- Chris Reed allegedly laundered the blanket before returning it.
- Chris Reed was subpoenaed to testify, pled the 5th, (refused to answer on the grounds of self-incrimination) and was released from the subpoena…on his statement it says very clearly that he was afraid to testify because he feared he’d be charged with Jessica’s murder.
SAVANNAH LAWLESS – Part of the story revealed at trial by defense witness, Michelle Serrao, placed Savannah Lawless with Jessica in a confrontation on the night in question. Michelle testified that upon hearing of Jessica’s murder, Savannah screamed “All I did was just beat her up!”.
LAWLESS TEEN– An important fringe detail that was ignored by investigators was the friendship between the two girls. Savannah Lawless was a new friend to Jessica of just a few months. You’ve heard the term “mean girls”? By many accounts Savannah was allegedly quite abusive and once slapped Jessica so hard it knocked her hat off. It has also been alleged that Savannah left several angry voicemails for Jessica just two days before her murder.
FUNK-HASLAM WITH LAWLESS- In summary, Savannah Lawless was allegedly the last person Jessica was with at Rosemont Park and admitted to beating her up on the same night she was killed. Witness statements indicate that Chris Reed, Johnny Richardson and Christina Lawless may have played a part in this crime.
Suggested Reading: www.ryandouglasroberts.wordpress.com.
***Individuals mentioned in this article are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
SAVANNAH LAWLESS-CHRISTINA LAWLESS-JOHNNY RICHARDSON-CHRIS REED