published Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Officers express doubts on Parker

by Chloé Morrison


* Stacy Meeks testified that, during police training, he had seen Mr. Parker use a chokehold to take people down. With that hold, a person could become unconscious within six to eight seconds, Mr. Meeks said.

* Another officer testified that he saw bruises on Mr. Parker's forearms a few days after Mrs. Parker disappeared. The bruises also were shown earlier in the week from pictures taken during a fishing trip.

* Judge Jon "Bo" Wood told the jury Friday that the trial was on schedule, if not ahead of schedule.

* Investigators also began testifying on Friday about the beginning hours of the search for Mrs. Parker. More on that is expected next week.

* A friend of Mr. Parker's testified Friday that he called to check on Mr. Parker after his wife disappeared and afterwards made notes of the conversation because it seemed strange.

LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- Former LaFayette police officer Freddie Roden said he trusted his longtime friend Sam Parker before he was charged with murder, but now he isn't so sure.

"It would be questionable," Mr. Roden said Friday while testifying in Walker County Superior Court.

Mr. Parker, also a former LaFayette police officer, is on trial for murder, accused of killing his wife, Walker County 911 operator Theresa Parker, in March 2007. He has pleaded not guilty.

The body of Mrs. Parker, who disappeared on March 22, 2007, has never been found.

Mr. Roden, who now works for the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department, was one of several law officers who testified Friday about Mr. Parker's behavior around the police department as well as comments he'd made to them over the years.

Some testified that Mr. Parker kept the bullet he used to shoot and kill a man in the line of duty and showed it as a trophy. While on duty, Mr. Parker killed a man armed with a knife who was holding a 4-year-old hostage. The shooting -- whose date was not established in court -- was ruled justifiable by the Walker County grand jury.

Earlier in the week, some officers testified that Mr. Parker showed the bullet as an educational display because he was the first person to use the specific type of bullet, which expands on impact.

But Robbie Tate, an investigator for the LaFayette Police Department, said Mr. Parker showed the bullet like a prize and that he'd also shown it to people he arrested.

While on the witness stand, LaFayette police Officer Stacy Meeks also said he thought Mr. Parker was bragging about his bullet.

"In addition, he showed me a picture of the deceased and there was a lot of blood around him and stuff like that," Mr. Meeks said.

The officers testified that Mr. Parker had a patch depicting the Grim Reaper on his jacket and a similar sticker on his locker. Mr. Tate said he complained about Mr. Parker's patch -- which wasn't part of the regulation uniform -- to then-Police Chief Charles "Dino" Richardson, who did nothing about it.

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Some have testified that Mr. Richardson often protected Mr. Parker from trouble.

Chief Richardson died in 2006 after decades in that position. Mr. Meeks testified that, as Chief Richardson was on his deathbed, Mr. Parker removed items from his own personnel files.

"He mentioned he didn't want the new chief to see anything that might hurt him," Mr. Meeks said.

Mr. Parker's lawyer, public defender David Dunn, questioned Mr. Meeks about what was in the files and had him admit that he never saw the information Mr. Parker removed.

Mr. Meeks testified that Mr. Parker also bragged about his mental state.

"He told me he had been seen by several psychologists or psychiatrists and they had ruled him homicidal and suicidal," Mr. Meeks said. "He made a statement that, a few weeks ago, he was wearing pajamas and eating tapioca pudding and now he is on the streets carrying a gun."

In April 2007, police were called to Mr. Parker's house and reported that he was trying to harm himself.

After his arrest, Mr. Parker told the Times Free Press in 2008 that he'd thought about committing suicide many times.

In another incident, Mr. Parker shared his philosophy about police officers with Mr. Meeks. The philosophy is based on a book that describes a policeman like a sheep dog, citizens like sheep and criminals like wolves, Mr. Meeks said.

"(Mr. Parker) said basically as a sheep dog, you have more in common with a wolf and that it is a fine line that separates the wolf from a sheep dog," Mr. Meeks said.

In an interview with the Times Free Press in December 2008, Mr. Parker said he was being unfairly targeted by law enforcement and that he was "the only sheep and they're the wolves."

Forensic experts also testified Friday that DNA from both Mr. and Mrs. Parker was found on the bumper of Mrs. Parker's 4Runner.

Former Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic biologist Jessica Walker said samples were taken from two areas on the bumper. Both samples could be blood, she testified, or one could be blood and another could be another source of DNA, such as saliva or sweat.

Assistant Public Defender Doug Woodruff got Ms. Walker to admit that the DNA could have shown up on the bumper in some "serendipitous" way and that there is know way to know how long the DNA had been there or how it got there.

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