SUMMARY: Irma Louise Robinson died on June 19, 1928 after an abortion perpetrated in Durham, North Carolina by Dr. Mike Roberson
Dr. Mike Roberson was convicted and sentenced to two to five years for the abortion death of 23-year-old Miss Irma Louise Robinson, a schoolteacher from Raleigh, North Carolina. A man named M. H. Davis said that he’d paid Roberson $50 to for the abortion, perpetrated in Roberson’s office on June 1, 1928.
The pair had made a total of four trips to arrange the abortion, Davis said, and he had waited in the waiting room of Roberson’s practice while Irma had gone back to have the abortion done. He was there, he said, when Roberson gave Irma aftercare instructions and sent her to the home of Mrs. E. E. Forsythe, who was paid $40 to care for Irma as she recovered.
The next day, Irma became seriously ill and was taken to the hospital where her condition deteriorated until she died on June 19.
Two doctors who examined Irma said she’d died of blood poisoning from an incomplete abortion.
Davis said that he’d had “illicit relations” with Irma but denied being the father of her baby.
Roberson’s defense was based on an alibi, that he had been at his brother’s farm hauling furniture on the day of the abortion. In the ruling granting Roberson an appeal, the court noted that Roberson’s “testimony is contradicted in every material respect the evidence for the State tending to show that defendant committed the crime.”
However, the court found that there were problems with the use of character witnesses not just to impeach his testimony, but to convince the jurors that since Roberson’s character was bad, he was more likely to have committed the crime. Thus he was granted a new trial.
While he was out on bail pending appeal he was fined for getting into a drunken altercation in his office.
Roberson was either not tried a second time or was not convicted in the second trial, because he was free in 1932 to be implicated in the abortion death of Myrtle Gardner.
- “Preliminary Hearing for Dr. Roberson Proposed,” Statesville (NC) Record and Landmark, Jul. 9, 1928
- “Dr. Mike Roberson is Arraigned at Durham,” The Greensboro (NC) Daily News, Feb. 22, 1929
- “Dr. Mike Roberson Given 2 to 5 Years,” Greensboro (NC) Daily News, Feb. 23, 1929
- “Dr. Mike Roberson Is Due To Face Trial Next Week,” Statesville (NC) Record and Landmark, May 23, 1929
- “Dr. Mike Roberson Fined in Court,” Statesville (NC) Record and Landmark, Aug. 1, 1929
- State v. Roberson, Supreme Court of North Carolina 197 N.C. 657 (N.C. 1929)
- Death certificate