LAFAYETTE, Ga. — Six witnesses described a rough and raging Sam Parker during his bond hearing and arraignment Tuesday morning.
“He told me, ‘I have killed before, and I will kill again,’” said Tabitha Thomas, who has known Mr. Parker for at least seven years.
Mrs. Thomas, Theresa Parker’s former sister-in-law, said Mr. Parker made that comment regarding a family dispute.
She was one of six witnesses who recounted frightening interactions with Mr. Parker, a former LaFayette, Ga., police officer accused of murdering his wife.
He also is charged with three additional felonies of making false statements, computer invasion of privacy and violation of oath by a public officer.
The only person to speak on Mr. Parker’s behalf was Chattooga County Probate and Magistrate Court Judge Jon Payne, who said he has known the defendant and his family for about 40 years. Mr. Payne made it clear that he was not answering questions as an official, but as a family friend. He said Mr. Parker is not a flight risk or a danger to the public.
“He is a native child,” Mr. Payne said. “His family is from here. He doesn’t have anywhere to go and he doesn’t have any money.”
Mr. Parker sat alone before his appearance at the Walker County Court House, his hands and feet shackled and clean shaven. Two guards loomed behind him.
The defendant was quiet through most of the hearing, except to whisper to his lawyer, Public Defender David Dunn.
Mrs. Parker, a former Walker County 911 dispatcher, will be missing for one year on March 22, and, though no body has been found, Sam Parker was arrested Feb. 4 on a murder charge. Mr. Parker has told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in the past that he did not hurt his estranged wife.
But Rome Judicial Circuit District Attorney Leigh Patterson gathered witnesses who claim Mr. Parker has violent, unethical and erratic tendencies.
Mr. Parker’s ex-wife Keila Beard told the courtroom that after about three years of marriage “something clicked” when she asked her husband about a conversation he had with a woman she didn’t recognize.
“All of a sudden he got real hostile,” she said. “He grabbed me by the back of my hair and drug me through the house. He handcuffed me to the bed.”
On another occasion he threatened to kill her, she said.
“He pulled his gun out and held it to my head and said he would blow my brains all over the wall,” she said.
LaFayette police officer Stacy Meeks testified that while then-LaFayette Police Chief Charles “Dino” Richardson was dying from cancer, Mr. Parker took papers out of his personnel file.
“He stated he didn’t want the new chief to see anything bad,” Mr. Meeks said.
Throughout testimony Mr. Dunn questioned the witnesses about why they did not immediately report these problems. He also said it was “very unusual” to have so many witnesses during a bond hearing.
“I think that was more for the media’s benefit than the judge,” he said.
Mr. Parker often rapidly tapped his foot during the proceedings, and Mr. Dunn acknowledged that his client seemed agitated.
“I think he was hearing things that he did not agree with as being true,” Mr. Dunn said. “Sam is fine. He is ready to fight this.”
Walker County Superior Court Judge Jon Bolling Wood will decide if and when Sam Parker will be freed on bond.
Judge Wood said he would make a decision after he considers the information he heard during more than two hours of testimony Tuesday morning.
Mrs. Parker’s sister, Christina Hall, said she was relieved that her brother-in-law was not freed Tuesday.
Hilda Wilson, Mrs. Parker’s other sister, could not attend the hearing, but her daughters did. Mrs. Wilson’s daughter Amanda Gilbert said attending the hearing was difficult.
“The hardest part for me is seeing him, because he was such a big part of our family,” she said.