A charge against a man accused of beating a Stafford County resident to death while he was sleeping last year has been upgraded to first-degree murder.

Matthew David Roberson, 43, had been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the Nov. 25 slaying of 54-year-old Larry Dean Roberson. The two men had a distant connection by marriage, but Larry Roberson’s family members said they were not related.

Prosecutor Micheal Hardiman said the charge was upgraded because he decided the evidence indicates the attack was premeditated. First-degree murder carries a possible life sentence.

In addition to the upgraded murder charge, Matthew Roberson was indicted on several new offenses this month by a Stafford grand jury. The new charges include aggravated malicious wounding, robbery, felony murder and grand larceny from a person. Two of those charges also carry possible life sentences.

According to evidence presented at a preliminary hearing, Larry Roberson was sleeping in a recliner at his home on Newton Road in southern Stafford on Nov. 25 when he was attacked with a bat. He died as the result of blunt force trauma to the head.

He was discovered a few hours later by a friend who’d come to get him to ride to the dump.

After the slaying, witnesses allege, Matthew Roberson took the victim’s wallet and phone and went to several stores, where he made or attempted to make several transactions. He also went to visit a known drug dealer, authorities allege.

Surveillance pictures obtained from stores helped police identify Roberson as the suspect. He was taken into custody Nov. 30 at a home in Spotsylvania County.

Matthew Roberson continues to be held without bond. A trial date has not been set.

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Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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