Through his lawyers, a man accused of stealing a $3,000 camera from his dying friend planned to ask a judge Wednesday to move the trial out of town, saying NewsChannel 3 stories could influence potential jurors.
A NewsChannel 3 investigation in October showed how a mother named Diane Pardee won’t accept the stories of how her 21-year-old son Chris died. Police maintain he climbed out of a car window and tumbled to the pavement as part of a car-surfing stunt. That’s based on stories from three of Chris’ friends in the car, including Erin Robertson. Police later charged him for taking advantage of Chris’ horrible injuries and stealing Chris’ expensive camera. And then, according to court records, Erin tried to pawn the camera as Chris was near death in the hospital. Chris died in June on his 21st birthday. Erin has a police record including arrests for theft, drugs, alcohol and assault.
A NewsChannel 3 investigation revealed police officers sent to where Chris was hurt let the 19-year-old driver go, even though she had been drinking. Records show they did not take any action against her under Virginia’s strict zero-tolerance laws for teenage drivers caught drinking. Hours later they charged her with illegal alcohol possession. Beach Police Chief James Cervera told NewsChannel 3 last month there is an internal investigation underway into why the first officers did not charge the young driver with a more serious crime.
In court, police dropped the alcohol possession charges. Later, on the day NewsChannel 3 aired its investigation, officers reinstated the charge.
Erin’s grand-larceny and fraud trial has been continued several times. It was scheduled for trial last week, and then postponed as defense attorneys sent a subpoena to NewsChannel 3 for copies of broadcasts. On Wednesday, defense attorneys planned to ask a judge to move the trial out of town. However, they tabled that request. They said they will try to find a pool of jurors in Virginia Beach who have not formed opinions on the case.
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