Advertisement
  1. News

Former St. Petersburg Realtor testifies against man accused of attacking her in 2006

James Parcher, 32, sits with his standby counsel, Ben DeBerg, at the Pinellas Criminal Justice Center Tuesday during his trial.
Published Jan. 12, 2012

LARGO — The crime drew national attention at the height of the housing boom, when everyone seemed to be buying and selling, and real estate agents scrambled to keep up.

St. Petersburg Realtor Julie Roberts was lured into a home in 2006 by a man who claimed to be house-hunting. Instead he attacked her and robbed her of credit cards and jewelry.

Nearly six years passed as the armed robbery and battery case against James Parcher meandered through the legal system.

But on Wednesday, after her long and frustrating wait, Roberts finally got the chance to tell a jury how her attacker hit her "so hard it made me see stars and I came right out of my shoes."

It started in March 2006, when Roberts, then with Century 21, got a call from a man who said he had just come into an inheritance and wanted to look at houses. And he said he wanted to see vacant homes — so he could move in more quickly, he said.

The man said his name was Craig, but authorities say it really was James Parcher, now 32.

Roberts showed him five houses in St. Petersburg. In a bedroom in the fifth house, in the 1200 block of 14th Street N, the man attacked her from behind by hitting her in the head with a pistol, she said.

She took "two lunging steps forward and fell, pretty much on my nose, all the way across the room," she testified Wednesday

He put his knee on her back, pulled her hands behind her and cuffed her with plastic ties. In the process, her elbow was fractured. Meanwhile he told her in a matter-of-fact voice, "be quiet or I'm going to kill you, don't say anything or I'll shoot you," she said.

"I asked him if this was a rape, a robbery or a murder," Roberts testified. He told her it was a robbery, and she saw that he had both a gun and what looked like a hunting knife. He took about $7,000 in jewelry, she said.

Eventually, he left. She jumped out a bedroom window and ran to a neighboring house.

Parcher's attorney, Ben DeBerg, asked questions about her identification of Parcher as the attacker. But under questioning by Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser, she said that after spending four hours with the man, there was no doubt it was Parcher who attacked her. The attack took about 15 minutes, and "15 minutes is a long time to be terrified," she said.

Parcher was arrested after using Roberts' ATM card in Tampa, according to police.

Part of the reason this 2006 case took so long to come to trial was that Parcher was represented by attorneys from the publicly financed Regional Office of Conflict Counsel, during a time of high turnover, so his case went from lawyer to lawyer to lawyer. Then he began representing himself and filed several motions on his own behalf, which stretched the proceedings even longer.

During the trial, Parcher has been represented by DeBerg, for the Regional Counsel's office.

Roberts said she has gotten out of real estate and now works for an airline.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or ckrueger@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  2. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  3. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  4. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  5. Terry Spencer carries his daughter, Trinity, through high water on 59th Street near Stewart Road in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda caused street flooding on the island. JENNIFER REYNOLDS  |  AP
    Although the amount of predicted rainfall is massive — forecasters say some places could see 40 inches or more this week.
  6. This April 2001 photo, which appeared in a newsletter from the West Point Grey Academy, shows a costumed Justin Trudeau, his face and hands darkened by makeup, attending an "Arabian Nights" gala. The academy is a private school in Vancouver, B.C., where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. (West Point Grey Academy/The Canadian Press via AP)
    A few Southern politicians responded to similar scandals recently with denials, apologies, and promises. Most of them have managed to stay in office.
  7. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  8. This April 14, 2019 file photo shows a western meadowlark in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo. According to a study released on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, North America’s skies are lonelier and quieter as nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds soar in the air than in 1970. Some of the most common and recognizable birds are taking the biggest hits, even though they are not near disappearing yet. The population of eastern meadowlarks has shriveled by more than three-quarters with the western meadowlark nearly as hard hit. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) DAVID ZALUBOWSKI  |  AP
    “People need to pay attention to the birds around them because they are slowly disappearing,” said the study’s lead author.
  9. Michael Robert-Jose Harbaugh has pleaded guilty in the 2017 slaying of Safety Harbor neighbor David Sommer, a former reporter. Harbaugh also pleaded guilty to a charge he tried to have a witness in the case killed. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    Former journalist David Sommer was killed in 2017. Michael Harbaugh, 42, agreed to serve 30 years in prison for his crimes.
  10. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement