published Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Friend says Parker acted normal on trip


by Chloé Morrison

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LaFAYETTE, Ga. — Longtime local attorney William “Bill” Slack testified Wednesday that his friend Sam Parker did not seem unusual or nervous during their fishing trip the day after Theresa Parker disappeared.

Mr. Slack didn’t know then that Mrs. Parker was missing, but the Walker County 911 director was last heard from late on March 21, 2007.

Mr. Parker, a former LaFayette police officer, is on trial in Walker County Superior Court on a charge of murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Slack testified that Mr. Parker said he was unhappy because he had given Mrs. Parker some money he inherited from his father so she could set up a new apartment.

The couple was going through a divorce when Mrs. Parker disappeared.

“He believed she’d used the money to go to Gatlinburg with another man,” Mr. Slack said under questioning from District Attorney Leigh Patterson. “This was his father’s money. He’d given it to her to set up a household. (Sam said) it dishonored his father.”

A Parker family friend and attorney, Mr. Slack said Mr. Parker also called him before the fishing trip to ask if Mrs. Parker was legally entitled to any share of the rest of the inheritance. Mr. Slack said that, under Georgia law, Mrs. Parker wasn’t entitled to that money.

Mr. Slack told Mr. Parker’s lawyer, public defender David Dunn, that Mr. Parker had a “good” reputation for character.

Mr. Dunn asked if Mr. Slack would believe Mr. Parker if he swore under oath.

“Absolutely,” Mr. Slack said.

Ms. Patterson used Mr. Slack’s personal photos from the fishing trip as evidence that Mr. Parker could have been involved in a struggle around the time his wife disappeared.

Showing a photo of Mr. Parker’s arms holding up a large fish, Ms. Patterson asked Mr. Slack if he could see a bruise. Mr. Slack acknowledged a “discoloration,” but said he couldn’t know whether it was a bruise.

FROM THE COURTROOM

* Mr. Slack testified that he had never seen Mr. Parker when he was intoxicated.

* When former Walker County deputy Shane Green testified about doing a welfare check at the Parkers' home early on March 22, Mr. Dunn pressed him on whether he was having an affair with Mrs. Parker. Mr. Green denied the allegation. Mr. Dunn alleged that Mrs. Parker had affairs with other men but did not introduce any testimony or evidence to support the claim.

* Mr. Dunn also mentioned that Mr. Green was the subject of a criminal probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for releasing information about an investigation when he worked for the Rossville Police Department.

Prosecutors continued working to build a timeline and scenario to show Mr. Parker’s whereabouts during the time his wife disappeared.

Mr. Parker was supposed to be at Mr. Slack’s house to go fishing at exactly 7:36 a.m. on March 22, Mr. Slack testified, but called to say he wouldn’t be there until 8 a.m.

“I knew Sam was rather obsessive about times and dates,” Mr. Slack said, so he suggested 7:36 to tease him.

The prosecution also showed video from a security camera at a recreation center in Trion, Ga. The camera is across the street from Mr. Parker’s late father’s house, where Mr. Parker often stayed. The video camera shows a car leaving the senior Parker’s home at about 6:50 a.m.

Another witness, Lloyd Parish, testified that, at about 5:30 a.m. on March 24, 2007, he saw a white male with glasses driving a LaFayette police car without lights on its top. Mr. Parker has glasses and drives a flat-top patrol car.

Mr. Parish said the car swerved over the lines on the road after pulling out from a small road coming from the woods.

“A white police car pulled right out in front of me,” Mr. Parish said. “I almost hit it.”

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