All he wanted to do, said Skip Adams-Taylor, was to get out of Joyce Robertson's apartment without hurting her feelings.
"She wanted to have sex and I didn't want to. I knew she would say, oh, he doesn't find me very attractive and . . . then it dawned on me: I'll make her choke until she passes out and then I'll leave.
Adams-Taylor, speaking softly into a police tape-recorder, was explaining to Arlington detectives why he strangled Robertson with the sash of her own maroon satin bathrobe, then decapitated a pet parakeet in the dead woman's apartment.
"She'll hate me, but the thing is, she won't be crying and I don't like for girls to cry. I figures [she would just pass out] long enough for me to grab up my [things] and dash," he said. "I didn't mean to kill her. I killed the bird because it was making too much noise."
Adams-Taylor's dramatic taped statement, played yesterday in a hushed Arlington courtroom, highlighted the second day of testimony in a case dubbed "the parakeet murder." The 20-year-old Adams-Taylor faces life imprisonment on charges that he murdered Robertson last July 26, the morning after the two met at a popular Washington disco. He also is accused of stealing clothing and stereo equipment from her apartment.
The headless carcass of Robertson's parakeet was found near the woman's body. "The little bird started to peep and peep . . . and it made me nervous," Adams-Taylor told police, describing why he ripped its head off and threw it near Robertson's body, which lay on a living room sofa. "I know it was kind of gross [to kill it]."
The 12-member jury listened impassively as prosecutors played two tape-recorded statements made by Adams-Taylor within an hour of each other. Court-appointed attorney George Varoutsos later abandoned a planned defense that Adams-Taylor was innocent by reason of insanity, saying he had no medical evidence to support it. Varoutsos rested his case without calling any witnesses.
Court-ordered psychiatric tests had indicated that Adams-Taylor, who has pleaded innocent, was competent to stand trial.
In a high-pitched, sing-song voice, Adams-Taylor first denied emphatically to police that he knew Robertson, a short, heavy-set woman who worked as a clerk for Arlington Paper Supply. "I don't go to bed with girls," he told Detective Edward W. Gabrielson in a voice edged with disgust. "I'm gay. . . The only time I ever dance with them is if there's nobody else."
Gabrielson testified that shortly after that interview, when he told Adams-Taylor that an ID bracelet bearing the name "Skip" had been found in Robertson's apartment along with the defendant's large stuffed white toy buffalo, Adams-Taylor's demeanor and voice softened distinctly.
Adams-Taylor then said he had left The Pier disco in the District with Robertson in a rented silver limousine and went to her apartment because he was "real drunk."
"I told her I was gay and I don't like to go to bed with 'fish' [women] except every once in a while," said Adams-Taylor. After Robertson's two male roommates left the apartment for a weekend in New York, he and Robertson began playing "a sex-oriented game with a whip," drank some wine and then passed out in her bed.
"The next morning she got out of bed at 7 and I was tired and I wanted to just go back to sleep . . . but she wanted to have sex and I didn't." Adams-Taylor said he suggested instead that they drink scotch and champagne and watch cartoons.
"All I was thinking is I have to get out of here. . . . I have to think of some logical way to pick up my buffalo. . . . After 'Wonder Woman' she got the whip and started hitting me. I was getting tired of getting hit with a whip by a girl so I suggested we take a shower."
It was then, Adams-Taylor said, that he thought of choking Robertson. He said he came up behind her as she was lying on the couch and attempted to choke her with a whip she had draped around her neck. The whip broke.
"I think she thought I was just playing around," he said, adding that the woman did not resist. He then grabbed the sash off her bathrobe, knotted it twice around her throat and strangled her.
"I began to panic. . . . My subconscious was saying she's dead but your conscious always tells you things like that and I said no, she just passed out, she's not going to be asleep very much longer so you better hurry." After decapitating the parakeet, Adams-Taylor said he stole the stereo equipment "so police will know I did it." Police later found the equipment in his Washington rooming house.
Under cross-examination, Detective Gabrielson, in chilling testimony, disputed a defense suggestion that the murder was an accident, the result of a sexual perversion carried too far.
Gabrielson said that shortly after his arrest, two days after the murder, Adams-Taylor told police that he repeatedly beat Robertson's dead body with the whip and called her a "no-good slut."
"He told me there were two kinds of women: 'sluts and fishes' who were promiscuous and would have sexual contact on the first or second date and 'sisters' who were somebody nonsexual.
The jury is expected to begin deliberating the case today.