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Thread: James D. Robertson - South Carolina Death Row

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    James D. Robertson - South Carolina Death Row

    Earl Robertson and Terry Robertson

    Facts of the Crime:

    Robertson was convicted in 1999 of bludgeoning Earl and Terry Robertson to death in their home outside Rock Hill in November 1997. Terry Robertson, a former teacher, was beaten to death with a hammer as she lay in bed. Earl Robertson, a Springs Industries executive, was attacked with a hammer and baseball bat as he got out of the shower and stepped into the upstairs hallway.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Execution halted for Rock Hill man who killed parents

    A federal judge has halted the Nov. 19 execution of James Robertson, the Rock Hill man convicted of killing his parents with a claw hammer and baseball bat in 1997.

    Judge Sol Blatt Jr. signed a stay of execution late Thursday on grounds that Robertson has a right to file a petition of habeas corpus in the federal courts, after the S.C. Supreme Court last week set a date for Robertson to die.

    Robertson was sentenced to death in 1999 after a trial in state court in York County.

    The murders stunned the Rock Hill community. James Robertson was the younger of two sons of Springs textile executive Earl Robertson and his wife, Terry.

    Robertson beat his mother to death with a hammer on the stairs of the family home, then attacked his father in the shower with the hammer and a baseball bat. Prosecutors argued that Robertson’s greed for his parents’ estate was the motive for the crime.

    Robertson was caught in Philadelphia, Pa., soon after the grisly murders, after he fled by car to where his older brother was going to college.

    The latest roadblock to Robertson’s execution is “absolutely frustrating,” said York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant, whose office investigated the murders.

    The crime ranked among the most violent he has handled in more than 35 years in state and local law enforcement, Bryant said. Robertson was identified as the killer by overwhelming evidence in the case and a co-defendant who testified against him.

    “These killings, by a son on his parents, were as awful as it gets,” Bryant said today after learning that the execution scheduled for two weeks from today was halted.

    “I am at a loss for words. These cases go through the court system, and it seems like they never end.”

    Habeas corpus petitions – claims by death row inmates that their federal rights may have been violated during court proceedings – are common in death penalty cases.

    The state Attorney General’s office, which has successfully fought Robertson’s appeals for years, did not oppose the judge’s halting the execution for a federal review, according to court documents.

    The judge’s order, citing federal law, also appoints Robertson two lawyers to help him file a petition of claims by Jan. 8.

    One of Robertson’s newly appointed lawyers, Emily Paavola of Columbia’s Death Penalty Resource & Defense Center, said this morning that the stay of execution gives her and lead counsel Keir Wyble time to review the case.

    “This is a mechanism for the federal system to review any claims,” Paavola said.

    However, the lawyers were just assigned the case this week, Paavola said, and have not determined what Robertson might claim in federal court.

    Robertson has avoided execution dates before with just weeks to spare before he was set to die.

    In 2005, with execution scheduled within days, he filed a lawsuit against his defense lawyers in the 1999 trial, claiming they were ineffective.

    After a civil trial and hearings that took years, Robertson’s claims were denied in March 2008. Robertson appealed that decision, and last month, the S.C. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

    Robertson remains on death row at Lieber Correctional Institution in Columbia.


  3. #3
    Junior Member Stranger
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    Nov 2011
    Here is a man who has a superior intellagence, soft spoken and has struggled with addictions most of his life. It is unfortunate he abused his by-polar meds with the use of other substances and lost it. If not drugs, alcohol, if not alcohol, gambling. To this day he suffers from addictions. How much longer will he have the opportunity to 'stay' his execution? Not sure I understand the process or the justice system; sure seems like a hell of a long time since 1999 sentencing.

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    I agree with you mnnative. Robertson has moved into the federal appeals process. I checked the federal docket and Robertson has yet to file any appeals. I can't say how long it will take for justice to be served in this case.

  5. #5
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Investigation Discovery channel revisiting 1997 double homicide in Rock Hill

    The November 1997 murder of a Rock Hill couple by their eldest son will soon make its way to prime-time television.

    Jimmy Robertson was 21 years old when he killed Terry and Earl Robertson two days before Thanksgiving 16 years ago. Prosecutors said he killed his parents to get his share of $2.2 million in inheritance.

    Friday, film crews will be in York County shooting video and interviewing 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, who was one of several attorneys involved in Robertsons successful prosecution. Brackett explains why he wanted to open up to reporters about the case.

    Today, Robertson sits on Death Row at the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville.

    Brackett says he is now clear to talk to reporters about his role in Robertsons prosecution.

    Defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to tell the court a combination of drugs and a mental illness led to he double homicide.

    The show, once produced, will air on the Discovery ID Channel.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Discovery Channel examines area murder

    Just when it seemed like James “Jimmy” Robertson finally might fade from public view, the 39-year-old murderer is again trying to avoid execution under the spotlight of TV cameras.

    Robertson loves attention. Even after spending the last 14 years in prison for killing his parents with a baseball bat and claw hammer because he wanted their money.

    For years, Robertson even sent holiday cards to the prosecutor, Tommy Pope, who sent him to death row in a trial televised on Court TV, which is now truTV.

    Robertson likes people to have a good Christmas. Except his parents, who were slaughtered the week of Thanksgiving 1997.

    Pope, the former solicitor for York County, and Kevin Brackett, the current prosecutor who worked with Pope on the 1999 trial, are among many being interviewed this weekend in Rock Hill for a Discovery Channel documentary on Robertson and how the brutal killings of Terry and Earl Robertson shocked Rock Hill.

    “Jimmy, he is still guilty,” Pope said last week.

    “Guilty,” said Brackett.

    These two prosecutors convinced a jury that Robertson was a master manipulator, a narcissist who wore socks on his hands as he swung his bat and claw hammer.

    Robertson is known for maneuvering to try to hustle the legal system on the cusp of death, sneaking a cellphone into death row, and getting on online singles websites while on death row.

    Once, Rock Hill’s most famous convicted killer had a buddy of his – the man in charge of the $2 million estate left when Terry and Earl Robertson were killed so brutally – buy a washer and dryer for death row. Robertson wanted to make sure that the clothes he and his fellow killers all wore around the death row lunch tables while discussing the countless pending appeals were impeccably clean.

    Robertson also loves to have free lawyers, although he often blames them for being in prison. Sometimes he fires them.

    Even if the lawyers worked on his behalf and were paid, and are still paid, by taxpayers. Since 1997, Robertson has had at least 11 court-appointed lawyers:

    • Two for the trial

    • Two for his appeal, both of whom Robertson fired

    • Two for his post-conviction relief lawsuit, in which Robertson blamed his trial lawyers

    • Three currently working his federal appeal for alleged wrongful incarceration

    • Two working his latest attempt to blame his trial lawyers and post-conviction relief lawyers

    Robertson was broke when he was convicted of killing his parents in an attempt to get their millions. His father, Earl, was a Springs textile executive.

    After the killings that afternoon in November 1997, Robertson stole his parents’ credit cards. He wasn’t even out of York County when he stopped at the Peach Stand in Fort Mill to buy cigarettes with the stolen cards.

    He then fled South Carolina for Philadelphia, where cops waiting for him to try to reach his brother at college grabbed him. The girlfriend with him, Meredith Moon, testified against Robertson at trial. Moon was released from prison a few years ago after a conviction for her role in the crime and subsequent flight.

    The trial was famous for descriptions of the Robertson home, where blood was sprayed all over stairway walls and shower where the parents were slaughtered with repeat blows.

    Just this week, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office filed a motion with the state Supreme Court scoffing at Robertson’s latest claim.

    In this one, Robertson claims that his 1999 trial lawyers and his post-conviction relief lawyers were unqualified to handle such a case or they just plain botched his defense.

    Robertson now, apparently, does not want to die. That has not always been the case.

    Robertson’s legal battle to avoid death has cost millions and a forest of trees for all the paperwork.

    In 2000, just a year after he was convicted, Robertson wanted to drop all his appeals, saying he was ready to be executed. He fired lawyers, saying they were not helping him get to that point.

    It took years of court hearings, but finally, the state Supreme Court set an execution date.

    The, with just days left before a date with death in 2005, Robertson filed a civil lawsuit called a post-conviction relief action claiming his trial lawyers failed him.

    Robertson lost that after days of hearings in court, with two veteran lawyers helping him. After more court wrangling, the execution was set for Nov. 19, 2010.

    Again just days before his planned death, Robertson filed a federal habeas corpus lawsuit, claiming he is being held illegally. That suit, with three lawyers on Robertson’s side, remains in limbo because Robertson, using two other lawyers, also has asked the state Supreme Court to throw out his failed PCR efforts.

    That’s why the state Attorney General’s Office again has had to file papers saying Robertson deserves no more hearings or lawsuits.

    The AG’s office would only say Robertson’s claim now is in the hands of the Supreme Court, which will decide whether he gets a new PCR hearing. That could take months.

    Legal experts have said the ultimate resolution of Robertson’s latest appeals, including the federal lawsuit, could take years.

    It already has been 14 years since Robertson was convicted.

    The lead lawyers for Robertson in his two current legal actions could not be reached for comment.

    Robertson is unavailable for comment on the lawsuits, or the upcoming TV special that Discovery Channel producers said will air this spring. He can watch TV, but no interviews are allowed on death row.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Jimmy Robertson, whose crime shocked Rock Hill, turns 40 on death row

    By Andrew Dys
    The Herald

    RIDGEVILLE — There will be no birthday party Sunday at the maximum security prison where the state’s 48 death row inmates live.

    Still, the resident rich kid at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville will celebrate his 40th birthday. It is unclear if the Rock Hill man who slaughtered his parents 16 years ago next week – two days before Thanksgiving – will make a wish or get presents.

    Because nobody but Robertson himself ever really knows what he wants, much less what he will do.

    Sometimes Robertson decides he wants to die in the electric chair.

    Often, on important dates such as the 10th anniversary of the day he killed his parents, Robertson has flowers sent to the church they attended, Oakland Avenue Presbyterian.

    The former star student and Eagle Scout – whose Springs Industries executive father gave Robertson cars and college and money and chances and love – files appeals and blames and fires lawyers paid for by taxpayers.

    Other times this man – who went to Georgia Tech and came home to smoke crack, snort Ritalin and threaten and kill his parents – has had a cellphone sneaked to him on death row.

    He has met girls through an online service while on death row, and sent holiday cards to the prosecutor who sent him there.

    Although Robertson has claimed he wanted to die for his crimes – and has twice been within days of execution – he has repeatedly filed last-minute appeals, two of which are pending and keeping him alive.

    A state lawsuit claims one of Robertson’s lawyers botched his appeal by not proving that his trial lawyers had botched his murder case in 1999. A federal lawsuit that seeks a whole new trial for Robertson is on hold until the state lawsuit – which will determine whether he gets another shot at an appeal – is resolved.

    Because Robertson was a rich kid who killed his parents, his crime was huge news. Just days before the 1997 slayings, a Rock Hill man had killed his former girlfriend, her boyfriend and then himself. Three dead in a horrible triple killing, and nobody but the families ruined ever asked about the case again.

    But Robertson is different.

    A rich white kid of privilege who claims to have been disciplined to the point of abuse – despite his parents showering him with money – kills his parents in an attempt to get more than $2 million in cash and insurance. That was, is and always will be big news.

    Robertson’s 1999 trial was broadcast on CourtTV, which is now called truTV. He was famous all over the country. Since the trial, there have been TV specials about him, a true crime book and more.

    In dozens of court hearings since his conviction, Robertson has not once apologized or shown even the barest remorse. He has never mentioned his parents by name. He does like to look for cameras, though, any time he is in court.

    “If it involves attention, Jimmy will take it,” said state Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, the former 16th Circuit solicitor who prosecuted Robertson in 1999. “Jimmy loves the spotlight. He loves the spotlight, even on death row.”

    Even a spotlight brought on by snorting 10 times the normal dosage of crushed Ritalin and slashing his mother, Terry Robertson, 49, repeatedly with a butcher knife and a claw hammer. A horrible death.

    Robertson then grabbed some Tilex bathroom cleaner as Earl Robertson, 49, stepped out of the shower. Robertson sprayed his father’s eyes, blinding him, then smashed his head with a claw hammer a bunch of times. He finished the job with a Louisville Slugger baseball bat.

    Robertson then kicked the bodies a few times, to make sure the deed was done.

    This killer was mad at his parents for not letting him do what he wanted all the time, despite being 24 and living off them after a short stretch in prison for stealing a car and credit cards from neighbors.

    He had even been hospitalized two years before the murders, court documents show, over concerns he would hurt somebody – specifically his mother.

    After killing his parents – just days after his birthday – Robertson wrote a phony note to try to fool the cops, stole his father’s credit cards, and took off with his girlfriend for Philadelphia, where his younger brother was in college.

    Robertson left a trail of credit card purchases and bloody evidence he threw out in trash bins along the way. By the time he reached Philadelphia, cops were waiting with shotguns and handcuffs – and the arrest warrants that would start the chain of publicity that Robertson rode all the way to death row.

    “Jimmy Robertson was and is guilty,” said Kevin Brackett, the current 16th Circuit solicitor who helped Pope prosecute Robertson. “The evidence was plainly overwhelming.

    “And it never changes that Jimmy is all about Jimmy.”

    Robertson’s girlfriend, Meredith Moon, testified to all she had seen that terrible night, and she served more than 10 years in prison for her role as an accomplice. After she left prison years ago, she got married and started her life over.

    “Meredith Moon never gets in trouble if she doesn’t meet Jimmy Robertson,” said Moon’s lawyer, York County Chief Public Defender Harry Dest.

    Robertson’s brother, Chip Robertson, later went to prison himself for drug offenses. Chip Robertson, who left the state after doing his time, wrote a letter to The Herald in 2005 saying South Carolina should be embarrassed if his brother ever gets a reprieve from his death sentence.

    Robertson stayed in touch with Gene Sullivan, his father’s friend who handled the $2.2 million inheritance that Robertson wanted but could not get, because death row inmates do not get millions to spend on canteen candy bars. Sullivan later served almost three years in federal prison himself for stealing millions from his clients.

    Chip Robertson told the judge, in an attempt to help Sullivan get a lighter sentence, that Sullivan used some of the money to buy his brother a washer and dryer to be used by all on death row.

    Prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office have been in dozens of courtrooms in the past 14 years to try to make Robertson’s case finally come to a conclusion in the electric chair. The office recently filed more legal papers saying Robertson’s claims to have his conviction or sentence overturned are preposterous.

    One of Robertson’s current appeals lawyers is Robert Dudek, the chief of appellate defense for South Carolina. Dudek and his staff have already been fired once by Robertson when he claimed he wanted to die – but now Robertson is allowing them to try to save his life.

    Dudek said there is no deadline for the state Supreme Court to decide if Robertson’s latest appeal will be heard.

    “These things take time,” Dudek said.

    On his 40th birthday – after 14 years on death row – one thing Jimmy has is time.


  8. #8
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    If parents don't raise their children with a strong work ethic and or spoil them, they often grow up with a sense of entitlement. Glad he's spending his 40th birthday locked up and not out spending his parents hard earned money.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JimKay's Avatar
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    Jun 2013
    Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. -- Tolstoy, "Anna Karenina"

    I suspect that for all its wealth, the Robertson family was seriously dysfunctional. Both sons became criminals? No excuse for what little "Jimmy" did, of course. The town I grew up in was a mixture of Peyton Place and Tombstone. A kid I knew well, a year younger than me, blew away his father with a shotgun one night, when he was only 15. (According to the son, dad thought the girl he was seeing wasn't up to family standards.) If you knew the family superficially you'd have been shocked, as they seemed like a prosperous All-American clan. Not all of us were surprised, though.

    By the way, his name was also Jim. Don't mess with Jims.

  10. #10
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I agree that both sons being criminals certainly points to a certain amount of dysfunction in the family. I do believe that sometimes children are just born bad. I grew up with a kid across the street and he was rotten to the core. He shot cats with a bow and arrow, put his 3-year-old sister's hand on a hot iron and beat my 6-year-old brother with a rock, so badly he had to have stitches in his head. His other two brothers and sister seemed ok...I don't know whatever happened to him, but I'm sure he must have gone to jail at some point...and ok I won't mess with any Jims lol.

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