Jury finds man guilty of killing girlfriend, whose body was found along Alameda shoreline

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The Pleasanton man accused of killing, dismembering and dumping the body of his girlfriend near an Alameda shoreline is now facing life in prison after a jury found him guilty Monday.

After two days of deliberation, the jury found Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner’s fiancé, 42-year-old Joseph Roberts, guilty of second-degree murder.

Roberts faces 15 years to life in prison. He is expected to be sentenced next month.

“Justice has been served, and we can now feel, we won’t have the trauma that I and my family have faced for the last four years by Joseph C. Roberts,” said S. Jamila Buckner, Rachel’s mother.

Rachel’s body was found dismembered and wrapped in plastic near the Bay Farm shoreline in Alameda. Rachel, a Howard graduate and recent law school graduate, met Roberts when they were both students at Golden Gate University School of Law. They lived together in an apartment in Pleasanton.

Evidence indicates Roberts never reported that Rachel was missing despite the two living together.

Family and friends said there were years of warning signs about Roberts, and they blame Pleasanton police for not doing more sooner.

“What you didn’t hear is that a year before Joseph murdered Imani, he beat up family members,” Judith Klain said. “He beat up 75-year-old grandmother and Imani’s mom. What you didn’t hear is that 17 times the police came out and did barely anything. This is an injustice that should never have happened.”

District Attorney Pamela Price said DNA evidence helped secure the guilty verdict.

“I first want to thank the jury for their work in delivering this guilty verdict,” Price said in a statement. “I also want to thank the City of Alameda Police Department, the FBI, and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office for their diligent investigation. I also want to commend our entire prosecution team, including Deputy District Attorney Colleen Clark, DAO Inspector Bruce Christiansen, VictimWitness Advocate Erica Chavis, and our professional support staff for their compassionate support of the family and friends of Ms. Buckner. Today’s verdict brings justice not only to Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner but also to her daughter, her immediate and extended family, and our community. What happened to Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner is unimaginable. The condition of her body when it was found shocks our humanity. This tragedy will leave her family and our community forever traumatized whenever her murder is mentioned.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.