Delco man sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for fatal road rage shooting

Jim Melwert
December 13, 2018 - 11:18 am
David Desper

West Goshen Police Department

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CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Delaware County man who pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in September for shooting and killing 18-year-old Bianca Roberson in a road rage incident has been sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison.

Prosecutors initially asked Thursday morning for a maximum sentence of 22.5 to 45 years in prison for 29-year-old David Desper, based on the impact he has had on her family, friends and the community, the gravity of the crime, protection of public, and what they say is a lack of genuine remorse from Desper. 

Family members gave heartbreaking statements to the court, including her father, Rodney Roberson, who said everyone thinks he's tough, but he has a soft spot for his daughter.

Bianca Roberson always loved Luther VanDross' song "Dance With My Father," he said. When she first told him about the song, he cried. He quoted the song in court, saying, "How I'd love, love, love to dance with my father again," and then turned to the judge and said, "Your honor, I'd love to dance with my daughter again, but I never will."

He said all her dreams were coming true until she was murdered. 

“It hurts every day I think about her," he added, "but just thinking about her and what she would want me to do, she would be like, 'Get up Dad, don’t let that keep you down. You gotta keep moving.' "

Bianca Roberson's mother, Michelle, also spoke, saying every morning, her daughter would come into her room and say, "Good morning, beautiful," and she'd say back, "Good morning, gorgeous." 

Family and friends often referred to Desper in testimonies as a "monster." Michelle Roberson essentially yelled at the defendant and said the shooting should not be labeled as road rage but rather a racist being enraged. His attorney argued it's not about being a "monster. It's not about a menace. It's about a mistake."

Bianca Roberson
Bianca Roberson/Facebook

Desper shot Roberson in June 2017 at a merge point on Route 100 near Route 202 in Chester County as they were jockeying for position. She was on her way back from a shopping trip with her mother and grandmother, in preparation for her first year of college, where she intended to study criminal justice. 

Desper's friend since middle school testified, calling him his idol. He said this terrible incident "can’t define him, because it’s not him."

His mother also spoke, recounting the moment when he told her he "screwed up" and did something he "can't take back." She feared he would take his own life that night.

The prosecution countered that Desper's logical solution for disliking the way someone was driving was to take out a gun and shot her. After he shot Roberson, prosecutors say he went to the beach, ate pancakes and played mini-golf. "What kind of man shoots a little girl in the head and then goes and eats pancakes?" asked the prosecution.

Desper admitted in court that he was afraid, as Roberson's Chevy Malibu "swerved at me a few times." He said she sped toward his pick-up truck. He panicked, he said, and picked up the loaded gun that was in the console. "Why is this happening to me?" he thought.

Desper's gun was licensed and he was permitted to carry it.

He tearfully apologized to the family, adding he wishes he could take it back.

His sentence of 20 to 40 years is the longest sentence the judge was allowed to give under the law for third-degree murder.

"I don’t believe you were afraid," said Chester County Judge Ann Marie Wheatcraft, tearing up. "If you’re afraid, you hit the brakes. I believe it was anger."

As she sentenced him, Desper closed his eyes, bowed his head and began to cry.