BRANSON, Mo.–The man accused of killing six-year-old Branson girl is in court — and for the first time — the victim’s parents are speaking out. 

John Roberts is accused of strangling 6-year-old Jasmine Miller in February of 2015 and hiding her body under a bed in a motel room.

On Wednesday, Roberts had a preliminary hearing where prosecutors called three witnesses – two detectives and the hotel property manager at the time.

One detective testified about the condition in which he found Miller’s body under a bed in Robert’s room.

Prosecutors believe Robert’s lured Miller into his room at the Windsor Inn hotel then strangled her.

Roberts told the Department of Social Services that he was only attempting to scare the girl when he strangled her and that he was high on meth at the time.

Miller’s parents spoke about the case Wednesday and their loss for the first time.

“It was terrible not knowing if they were going to send him to a mental health home or if we were going to get complete justice,” said Jason Ballew, Jasmine’s father. 

The defense has argued Roberts isn’t mentally fit to stand trial, but a judge has ruled otherwise. 

“Getting to today was a long time and coming,” said prosecuting attorney Jeff Merrell. “But we’ve gotten this far and now we can move on to Circuit Court which is the next step in the process.”

Defense lawyers still argue that Roberts is not mentally fit to stand trial. Prosecutors expect that issue to come up again in circuit court.

“We will be prepared … making a record of what we think demonstrates he’s competent to proceed,” said Merrell. 

Meanwhile, the parents say they find strength in each other and God, cherishing the memories of their little girl so that they can move forward, too. 

“Her smile, and how she liked to laugh, and how she loved everybody in the community,” said Laurie Ballew. “I know she is in a better place and we will all be together one day soon.”


Robert’s arraignment is scheduled for September 28.