Jailhouse phone recordings sink bond chances in Chris Pardee case

Virginia Beach prosecutors told a judge today that a man who was asking for bail planned, upon his release, to go on a pot-smoking binge and to punch a former friend in the face.

That came from recordings of Erin Robertson’s jailhouse phone calls to family and friends. Some of the calls were played in court Tuesday.

Prosecutors accused Robertson of “fabricating” a relationship with the woman claiming to be his girlfriend to sway the judge.

Kathryn Zapatka testified that she and Robertson had been together off and on for a couple years, but as of the weekend, committed officially as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Prosecutor Scott Lang played a recorded phone call between Robertson and his mother Randi Robertson in which the mother asked, “So, she’s your girlfriend now?” And Erin Robertson responded, “That’s what I am going to say to get the f— out of jail.”

Lang also said there are recorded phone calls between Zapatka and Robertson discussing their frequent pot smoking and that Robertson wanted to smoke marijuana as soon as he was released. They both testified that they smoke pot two or three times a week. But Zapatka says her father doesn’t approve. She assured the judge Robertson would stop smoking pot because her father, a man she identified as a retired Navy commander, would not allow it in the house where Robertson planned to live.

She told the judge: “When I do smoke marijuana, I don’t do it at my home.” She agreed with prosecutors that she sometimes smokes marijuana two or three times a week. Judge Thomas Padrick then replied, “Maybe you ought to consider moving to Colorado.” Zapatka, apparently not sensing the judge’s sarcasm, replied, “Yeah, or DC, the nation’s capital.”

“The point,” the judge said to her, “is that it’s illegal.”

Robertson’s public defender then tried to end the conversation saying to Zapatka, “I think you’ve said enough about that.”

Last summer, Robertson was the back-seat passenger in a car along with his friend Chris Pardee. There was some sort of a car accident, and Pardee ended up on the pavement. He died several days later. Pardee’s mother Diane Pardee said she doesn’t believe the stories of how Chris died. And as her son was on his hospital deathbed, she found out Robertson somehow had Chris’ $3,000 Canon camera and was trying to pawn it. No one was charged with Chris’ death. The driver, then a 19-year-old woman named Alexa Liebig, is facing charges for underage alcohol possession.

Robertson was scheduled to plead guilty two weeks ago, but at the last minute, he backed out. Lang then told a judge Robertson had threatened to kill a witness in the case. The witness was Robertson’s own father. A judge then ordered Robertson locked up while prosecutors brought new charges. In Monday’s hearing, Robertson was asking another judge to reconsider bail. Typically, hearings like this take a few minutes. Monday’s hearing lasted more than an hour and included a video projector playing the recorded phone calls.

The judge denied bond.

At one point, the public defender told the judge that this was just a grand larceny charge that would be heard by a jury. The judge interrupted, incredulous: “You’re going to take a jury on this?”

Lang said it was the prosecutors who now wanted a jury since Robertson had backed out of the plea.

As she left court, Zapatka said to NewsChannel 3’s reporter, “There are two sides to every story.” She declined to answer a question.

In several months, Robertson has not returned any messages or a certified letter sent to his home, asking for his side of the story. When he was arrested on the new charges two weeks ago, we again asked for an interview, and he declined.

Related: 

Man accused of stealing from dying friend now a fugitive
Prosecutors subpoena online videos after fatal crash
Police collect what could be compelling evidence in Beach man’s death
Beach police admit possible mistake as grieving mother seeks answers in son’s death

13 comments

  • Jacks

    They need to just convict him on the murder that he committed. If the police did there job, like interview the people that were in the car at the time, then maybe they’d have the evidence they need. OR… If the police followed leads that were handed to them on a silver platter maybe some headway could be made… OR…. Too many ors to mention honestly. I won’t even get started on the medical examiner.

    This case should be looked upon as a dark spot in Virginia beach history where a young man and his family were failed at every level. Many of the parties involved will continue to fail families in the future because of lack of public outcry and lack of accountability.

    At least there still seems to be some unbiased journalism. My hat goes off to Mike Mather.

  • Tim

    Follow the money…..Why wasn’t the driver (who was DUI) of the car that Chris Pardee was killed in not charged with Manslaughter?

  • Michael Wright

    What a horribly written article. It reads at an 6th grade English level and at a 1st grade journalism level.

    How about some background about the case? What he’s being charged with? Referring to “the woman” in the first few paragraphs who hasn’t even been mentioned in the article yet.

    I’m guessing Erin Robertson’s girlfriend could write an equally coherent article.

    • Wastrel

      I found the article to be confusing, too. What I thought was amusing was the woman’s honesty about her pot-smoking. It reminded me of an old fellow I met once who had been arrested for possession of some miniscule amount of pot; he told me, “The judge asked if I would stop smoking pot, and I told her no, and she let me go. What else could she do?” That was perfectly rational in his case, but these people are involved in threats, assaults and robberies and what-you-have-it, and pot smoking should not be not the issue, I think.

  • jessica

    Ignorant kid decides to go car surfing after drinking heavily, kills himself. Then back seat passenger (not the driver who was also drinking) gets accused for this kids death?! Sorry for the loss but stop trying to accuse someone else for their sons ignorance.

    • Irene

      There was no car surfing. The reports made by those in the car range from: “He opened the door and fell out” to “He was hanging out of the window and fell.” Apparently, Chris “bounced twice” after falling out of the car. I don’t know how that’s possible given the driver’s statements as to her driving that night, or the size of her car (a sedan, not an SUV). There’s definitely more to the story, but no one can seem to get any version of it straight.

  • Georgina

    I know this girl.. Her dad has Alzheimer’s. She smokes pot in her house all if the time. What fucked up people.

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