Skip Adams-Taylor, described by prosecutors as a man who hated women, was convicted yesterday of first-degree murder and theft in the strangulation slaying of a woman he had met in a Washington disco only hours before her death.
Arlington Circuit Court Judge Charles H. Duff, following the jury's recommendation, immediately imposed prison sentences of 25 years on the murder count and five years for larceny on the 20-year-old defendant.
Adams-Taylor, who sat slumped in his chair as the verdict was read, will be eligible for parole in 7 1/2 years. The dark-haired Washington man had described himself as a homosexual in a police tape played in court in which he said he killed the woman to avoid having sex with her.
"This is a case where the truth is stranger than fiction," defense attorney George Varoutsos told the jury in final arguments. "This case really doesn't make much sense. He [Adams-Taylor] is scared to death even though he's sitting there calmly. . . . I don't think he could survive a long penitentiary term."
But prosecutor Kenneth E. Melson argued that Adams-Taylor's "sexuality was being confronted. . . . He hated women, he hated what he categorized [the victim] as . . . . He had no regard for women whatsoever,"
The three-day trial of the case, dubbed "the parakeet murder" after the victim's decapitated pet bird was found near her body in her Arlington high-rise apartment, aroused wide interest because of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the woman's death.
In a dramatic, tape-recorded statement given by Adams-Taylor to police shortly after his arrest last July, the defendant said he went home with the woman, Joyce Robertson, in a chauffeured silver limousine shortly after the two met at The Pier, a Washington nightspot. Adams-Taylor said he told Robertson he was gay but went home with her anyway because he was "real drunk."
He said the next morning Robertson wanted to have sex, but not wanting to hurt her feelings, he attempted to distract her by suggesting that they drink champagne, watch cartoons, take a shower and play sexual games with a whip.
When she persisted, Adams-Tayor said he decided to choke Robertson, a short heavy-set woman, until she passed out and then quickly leave her apartment, taking a stuffed white toy buffalo he had carried with him the previous night. He said that after strangling Robertson he ripped the head off her parakeet because its chirping made him nervous.
Varoutsos, who urged the jury to convict Adams-Taylor of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter, called no witnesses and abandoned a planned defense that his client was innocent by reason of insanity midway through the trial. Court-ordered [TEXT OMITTED]
Prosecutor Melson called defense arguments "inconsistent" and argued that Adams-Taylor acted with malice and premeditation and should receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on the first-degree murder charge.
Melson cited police testimony that Adams-Taylor said he had beaten Robertson's dead body with a whip and called her "a no good slut" shortly after the murder.
"He could have opened that door and just walked out with his white buffalo," Melson said.
Melson called "ludicrous" Adams-Taylor's statement that he intended to spare Robertson's feelings by choking her into unconsciousness with a whip that was draped around her neck as she lay on the living room couch. Adams-Taylor told police he strnagled the woman with her bathrobe sash after two unsuccessful attempts to strangle her with a whip.
"Even after he kills and beats her, he acts calm and calls for a cab," said Melson, citing the defendant's statement that he took a taxi back to his Cathedral Avenue rooming house carrying stereo equipment stolen from Robertson's apartment.
When he was arrested two days after the July 26 murder, police said Adams-Taylor sopke in a British accent, said he was from Melbourne and that he was a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy. Police investigation later revealed that he is also known as George William Adams, that he is from Augusta, Ga., and that he had served in the U.S. Navy.
Out of the jury's presence, an Arlington police officer testified that Adams-Taylor had been arrested last year in Washington during Gay Pride Day. Police said he had also been arrested in Georgia on charges of domestic assault and of distributing obscene material.