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A.K.A.: "Jimmy"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - $2.2 million inheritance
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: November 25, 1997
Date of birth: 1973
Victims profile: Earl and Terry Robertson, both 49 (his parents)
Method of murder: Hitting with a claw hammer / Stabbing with knife
Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in June 1999

On November 25, 1997 - two days before Thanksgiving - Earl and Terry Robertson, both 49, were found brutally slaughtered inside their home in Rock Hill, a college town and flourishing suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina.

They were family people, churchgoing and law-abiding. Yet someone had wanted them dead - badly enough to cut Terry's throst and crush Earl's skull with a claw hammer. Suspicion swiftly fell on the couple's eldest son, James D. "Jimmy" Robertson, 21, who'd recently moved back in with his parents. After graduating high school with honours, Robertson had taken a wrong turn, flunking out of college, spiralling downward into drug and alcohol abuse and petty crime.

In the predawn hours of November 25, he called his teenage girlfriend, Meredith Moon, and told her to come over. When she got there, Robertson told her today was the day he was going to kill his parents. What had motivated a once-promising young man to slaughter his parents in cold blood? Was it, as prosecutors put forth, greedy desire for his share of a $2.2 million inheritance? What dark secrets did the Robertson family's all-American facade conceal? When James Robertson's own grandmother talked to a newspaper reporter about him, she said, "He'd be better off put to sleep."

In 1999, a jury would decide the fate of the son who ended the lives of the people who gave him his.


Already convicted of murdering his parents for inheritance, Robertson gets the death penalty

By Bryan Robinson -

June 7, 1999

YORK, S.C. (Court TV) James Robertson appeared to have it all. But now he has nothing except a murder conviction and death sentence for murdering his parents for their $2 million fortune.

Once characterized as a math genius, Robertson attended Georgia Tech in Atlanta and seemed on his way way to earning an engineering degree. His father, Earl, was an executive at a textiles firm called Springs Industries, and Jimmy, as he was known, was the heir to his parents' $2.2 million fortune.

But in 1997, something went horribly wrong with Robertson and his parents. Jimmy was expelled from college for missing too many classes, prompting his father to cut him off financially. Robertson was forced to take odd jobs at different restaurants in South Carolina.

Upset about the sudden turn his life had taken, Robertson allegedly began talking casually to his friends about killing his parents and according to prosecutors, kill them he did.

On November 25, 1997, Terry and Earl Robertson were discovered bludgeoned to death inside their own home.

Debbie Brisson became worried when her co-worker Terry did not show up for a meeting that morning. Thinking that Terry had overslept, Brisson went into the house. She was on her way to the master bedroom when she tripped over Earl's prone body on the second floor of the house.

Detectives and evidence technicians found blood spatter on the walls, floors, doors, and ceilings. Earl was found lying face down wearing nothing but his underwear. He had been clubbed repeatedly, and his flesh bore impressions left by the baseball bat used to attack him. Investigators determined that injuries to Earl's head were made by the claw end of a hammer. The head injuries were so traumatic Earl's brain had spilled out of his skull and pooled around his head.

Terry was found lying next to her bed. Her skull was fractured by blows inflicted by the sharp end of a claw hammer. Terry had been slashed and stabbed repeatedly on her face, arms, neck, and back. One slash wound went from her wrist to her elbow, and was so deep it exposed her bone. The attack was so violent that the knife blade broke off during the attack.

Police first began suspecting Jimmy Robertson when they traced a car parked just outside the Robertson house to Douglas Moon, the father of Robertson's girlfriend.

Douglas Moon told police that his daughter Meredith told him she used the car that morning to take her best friend Erin Savage, who had allegedly cut her finger, to the hospital.

However, Savage revealed that, in fact, Meredith Moon was accompanying Robertson to Philadelphia to pick up his younger brother Chip and had arranged for Savage to cover for her. York County investigators notified Philadelphia police, where they set up surveillance at Chip's apartment and arrested both Robertson and Moon the next day.

Under police questioning for two days, Moon initially said she was in the car while Robertson murdered his parents. Eventually, she told police what she knew about the murders and led investigators to the murder weapons.

Moon was originally charged as Robertson's co-defendant with two counts of murder, armed robbery, and credit card fraud. However, in exchange for her testimony, she pleaded guilty to two counts of accessory to murder after the fact, and armed robbery. Moon was sentenced to the 20 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in seven-and-a-half years. She could have received a maximum 60 years in prison

Because of the brutality of the murders and because evidence suggests that Robertson plotted against his parents, prosecutors sought the death penalty.

During the guilt-phase of Robertson's trial, his defense seemed non-existent: Robertson's lawyers said they would try to make prosecutors prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. During the penalty phase, defense attorneys tried to save Robertson's from the death penalty by arguing that he and his mother suffered from bipolar disease, or what used to be known as manic depression, and that Robertson's frontal lobes the parts of the brain that control impulses were abnormal. The defense also argued that, at the time of the murder, Robertson's abuse of Ritalin triggered a psychotic episode.

At the time of James Robertson's trial, his younger brother, "Chip" or Earl Robertson Jr., was not indicted in connection with his parents' murder. Testimony in the guilt phase revealed that James called his brother before he called Meredith on the day of the murders. Just what Chip knew and when he knew it remains a mystery. But there are suggestions that Chip also wanted his parents dead, and may even have actively conspired with James to kill them.

At this time Chip is in jail awaiting prosecution on drug charges. South Carolina investigators are continuing their investigation and have not ruled out charging him as an accessory after the fact of murder in his parents death.


Man Convicted of Killing Parents Rejects Death Sentence Appeal

Associated Press

February 24, 2005

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.

Robertson, an 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 being executed.

"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.

Defense attorneys said a dangerous mix of mental illness and drugs led Robertson to kill.

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 do.

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' deaths

The Herald

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 couple's apology.

That's what neighbors who have kids do. They try and settle problems over coffee at the kitchen table.

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.

Painful coverage

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."

Some 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, giving."

"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 parents.

"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 son's life.

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.

Jimmy 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.






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