In York, a Rock
Hill man convicted of killing his parents 7 years ago told a judge
that he does not want to appeal his death sentence to the South
Carolina Supreme Court.
James Robertson, 31,
spoke during a hearing Tuesday to determine whether he is
competent to withdraw the appeal.
Eagle Scout with 2 years of college, told the judge his guilt has
never been in question.
He told The Charlotte (N.C.)
Observer that spending 60 years in prison would be much worse than
"It's better to live life as
best you can in here and then to die," he said, "than to suffer
for 60 years."
Robertson, who has been on death
row for six years, murdered his parents Earl and Terry Robertson
in their Rock Hill home two days before Thanksgiving 1997.
According to court testimony, Robertson cut his mother's throat
and repeatedly stabbed her with a kitchen knife while she lay in
bed. He beat his father with a claw hammer and a baseball bat.
Prosecutors portrayed Robertson as self-centered and obsessed with
getting rid of his parents so he and his brother could inherit
their $2.2 million estate.
said a dangerous mix of mental illness and drugs led Robertson to
In court Tuesday, Robertson said he is
being treated for manic depression and takes three medications.
But he said he understands the consequences of what he wants to
Judge John Hayes didn't rule Tuesday and
didn't say when he will make a decision.
Son's appeal renews agony over parents' 'horrific'
January 24, 2007
Kathy Wood remembers how her parents told her about sitting at the
kitchen table more than 10 years ago, listening to the neighbor
That's what neighbors who have
kids do. They try and settle problems over coffee at the kitchen
The neighbors' son had broken into the
house of William and Alma Wood, then stolen their car and credit
cards. He would soon serve months in prison as a youthful offender.
"They tried to be good parents," Kathy Wood said of the neighbors
on Rock Hill's Westminster Drive. "When they sat at that table,
they had courage. That took guts."
Not too long
afterward, in November 1997, the couple that came to the kitchen
table to apologize for their son were brutally killed in their
home. Their names were Earl and Terry Robertson.
The same son, James "Jimmy" Robertson, was sentenced to die after
he was convicted of killing his parents. He's been on death row
ever since, making news along the way as he changes his mind about
whether to fight execution.
Jimmy will be in
court again next week. He filed a lawsuit claiming his trial
lawyers were ineffective.
"I wish you wouldn't
do another story on him," Kathy Wood said Tuesday. She was on the
phone in her family house on Westminster Drive, so close to where
Earl and Terry Robertson were beaten to death that she can see
where the cops hovered after the bodies were found.
She remembers "the gawkers" who drove by and stopped to look after
the media kept reporting more and more on the story of the slain
Springs executive and his wife, and the son who did it.
Wood said she has no problem with the death penalty for Jimmy
Robertson. She said Terry and Earl Robertson in death were "dragged
through the mud" in an attempt to save Jimmy Robertson's life
during the trial.
Since conviction, Jimmy Robertson has dropped his appeal and then
filed the lawsuit. Nobody knows what Jimmy's motives are but Jimmy.
"He just wants publicity," Kathy Wood said. "If nobody gave him
attention, he'd just shut up and die."
don't want coverage of what is going on with Jimmy Robertson. Too
painful for Rock Hill, many say. It is painful.
But that doesn't change that Jimmy Robertson, from a well-off
family, after the private schools and all the rest, was convicted
of killing his parents because he wanted their money.
And now he's going to court again with a chance, albeit slim, to
get a new trial.
A neighbor from around the
corner, Linder Tucker, called Terry Robertson "warm, loving,
"We were like sisters," Tucker said.
Tucker remembers what she described as the "All-American family."
Then she remembers the trial testimony of another neighbor who
told the jury Jimmy talked before the killings about murdering his
"Then he did it," Tucker said.
Tucker went to part of the trial, watched Jimmy Robertson cry. She
didn't buy Jimmy Robertson's tears for one second.
Tucker wants the story to be followed, closely. So that people
remember Earl and Terry. "Not just him," Tucker said of Jimmy.
A pastor's call
Yet, Tucker, like the
Rev. William Pender from Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church, said
Terry Robertson would be first in line Monday pleading for her
Pender seems to be a standup guy. He
does what preachers are supposed to do. He helps someone in his
fold look at death.
Even if the person killed
the parents that Pender knew so well.
Robertson is still a member of the church, Pender said. He still
gives Robertson "pastoral care," and it has "never been an issue
to take him off the rolls."
Pender hopes to see
Robertson at the York County jail, where Robertson arrived earlier
this week, before Monday's hearings. Pender equated Robertson
facing death to a terminally ill church member facing death.
Pastoral care doesn't mean making excuses, Pender said. Not a
whitewash. Not that Earl and Terry's death wasn't "horrific." He
has to balance honoring the memory of Earl and Terry Robertson
with the needs of the son convicted of slaughtering them.
I asked Pender if the Robertsons' death 10 years ago, and all that
has happened since, affected people in York County.
"Absolutely," Pender said.
So Monday, in court,
the wounds of patricide open again.