Joyce D. Robertson sipped champagne and toured Washington in a silver limousine equipped with a bar, color television and stereo with a man she met in a popular Washington disco only hours before. She took him home to her high-rise Arlington apartment and the next morning when a friend called to ask if she'd had a good time, Robertson immediately answered, "Yes."
Less than two hours later Robertson lay dead, strangled with a cord of her wine-colored satin bathrobe. Her body was discovered the next day by friends who became concerned when she failed to keep a date. Police found the decapitated corpse of her parakeet lying nearby and a broken whip behind a sofa.
That was the testimony of prosecution witnesses yesterday as what prosecutors have called Arlington's "parakeet murder" opened in Arlington Circuit Court. Skip Adams-Taylor, a 20-year-old Northwest Washington man, faces life imprisonment on charges that he murdered Robertson July 26 and then stole clothing and stereo equipment from the apartment in Robertson's pink suitcases. Police have said that shortly after the murder Adams-Taylor ripped the head off of Robertson's parakeet because he found the bird's chirping annoying.
The trial had been delayed pending court-ordered psychiatric test of Adams-Taylor which indicated that he was mentally competent to stand trial. Shortly after his arrest last summer, Adams-Taylor told police that he was a British subject and a sailor in the Australian Navy. Police investigation revealed that he was also known as "George William Adams," that he was from a small town in Georgia and that he had served in the U.S. Navy.
Prosecutor Kenneth E. Melson yesterday told the jury that Adams-Taylor, who has pleaded innocent, killed Robertson "with malice" and then "cooly" called a cab to drive him back to his Cathedral Avenue rooming house minutes after the murder.
George Varoutsos, Adams-Taylor's court-appointed attorney disputed that contention and said that the couple had a "compatible relationship." Varoutosos told the jury that Robertson's strangulation was accidental and was committed by a "very troubled, confused, sick young man."
The 12-member jury intently scanned the nearly 20 photographs, including several of the parakeet, which were offered in evidence and listened as more than 10 witnesses described events surrounding the death.
Julius Boughton Jr., a driver for Dav-El Limousine Service, testified that Adams-Taylor had won the limousine service in a raffle at a Washington bar. Boughton testified that shortly before the couple met at The Pier, a southwest Washington nightspotg, Adams-Taylor had stopped at a townhouse on Capitol Hill to pick up a large, white stuffed toy buffalo. It was later found in Robertson's apartment, police testified.
Boughton also said yesterday that he drove the couple around Washington's monuments and that they watched the TV serial "Prisoner in Cellblock H" on the small set in the car before going to the woman's apartment.
"They were just "happy-go-lucky," said Boughton who said that during the evening Adams-Taylor drank heavily and spoke with a British accent.
One of Robertson's teo male roommates, Robert Young, told the jury that shortly before 11:30 p.m. the couple arrived at their apartment as he and the third roommate were packing for a weekend trip to New York.
"They went into her bedroom and closed the door and I heard talking and laughing and music," said Young. He said that when he left about an hour later the couple was still there.
Under cross-examination Young said that he owned but "never used" the whip that was found near Robertson's body. Prosecutor Melson said that Adams-Taylor broke the whip when he tried to strangle Robertson with it.
Paula Henstridge, a longtime friend who called Robertson the morning after she met the defendant, said Robertson, a short heavy-set woman who worked as a clerk at Arlington Paper Supply, told her she had had a good time.
"I knew she'd gone out the night before and asked her if she had a good time and she said, 'Yes,' it [the good time] was continuing into today," recalled Henstridge.
She said she made plans to attend a soccer game with Robertson the next day.Concerned when Robertson failed to keep the date, Henstridge went to Robertson's apartment at the Dolley Madison Towers complex and discovered her body.
Adams-Taylor was arrested two days after the murder at his Washington home where police testified they found clothing and stereo equipment taken from the Arlington apartment. The trial is scheduled to continue today.