The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 17, 2004

Facing Iraq, soldier got himself shot, police say - Rather than be redeployed, Marquise Roberts plotted with relatives to be hurt in a bogus robbery, officials said.

Thomas J. Gibbons Jr.

Marquise Roberts absolutely did not want to return to Iraq, where he previously served a seven-month Army tour, police said yesterday.

So Roberts, they said, who lives on Williams Avenue in the Cedarbrook section of Philadelphia, concocted a plan to have a relative shoot him during a purported robbery.

But detectives said they unraveled the plot after Roberts, 23, went to a city hospital for treatment of a bullet wound to one of his legs. Now, Roberts and his wife's cousin are charged with a series of offenses.

In addition, Roberts missed his date Wednesday to return to Fort Stewart, Ga., where he probably will be extradited to face further action.

"They are extremely interested," Philadelphia Police Lt. James Clark said yesterday, referring to inquiries from military officials. "He didn't want to go back."

Police said Roberts' plan to desert the Army came to their attention about 2 p.m. Tuesday, when officers were notified that Roberts had arrived at Albert Einstein Medical Center with a gunshot wound. Roberts told police he was shot while walking in the 1500 block of Somerville Avenue in Logan.

Roberts said he was walking with his wife's cousin, Roland Fuller, 28, when they passed two men arguing.

Suddenly, Roberts said, shots rang out and he was shot in the back of the leg.

Roberts went to the hospital for treatment and was released.

However, detectives from the Special Investigations Unit of the Northwest Detective Division weren't through with Roberts.

They drove him to the spot where Roberts said the shooting had occurred. No evidence of gunfire was found.

Other investigators tracked down Fuller, whose account contradicted Roberts', police said. Fuller told investigators the shooting occurred in the 1500 block of Duncannon Avenue, several blocks from Somerville Avenue.

Investigators later tracked down Roberts' wife, Donna Roberts, who gave yet a third version of events. Clark said the conflicting versions piqued detectives' interest.

The victim and his two family members were kept separated and questioned at length. During that time, Fuller tried to escape but was caught, police said.

Later, a different story began to emerge.

Detectives said they discovered that Roberts was in the Army, assigned to Fort Stewart, and due to return there the next day.

They said they found that Roberts, his wife, and Fuller concocted a plan in which Fuller would shoot Roberts, and all three family members would report that that the shooting was committed by two men during a robbery.

The motive was to prevent Roberts from being redeployed to Iraq, detectives said.

Roberts later told police he had served seven months in the war zone and did not want to return.

Police said they recovered the gun used to shoot Roberts, who also lists an address in Hinesville, Ga.

Fuller was charged with aggravated assault, weapons offenses, and filing a false police report. Roberts was charged with recklessly endangering another person and filing a false police report.

Detectives said they were not ruling out charges against Donna Roberts.