published Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Sam Parker seeking new trial

  • photo
    Samuel L. Parker, 52, is trying to get a new murder trial in the death of his wife, Walker County 911 dispatcher Theresa Parker. He is serving life in prison for her death.

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Sam Parker Interview Part 1

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Sam Parker Interview Part 2

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After nearly three years of praying and waiting, Kenneth Parker hopes his older brother, convicted murderer Sam, finally will get the chance for a new trial.

Sam Parker, a former LaFayette, Ga., police officer, was arrested and charged with killing his dispatcher wife, Theresa, although her body hadn't yet been found. In 2009, he was convicted and sentenced to life.

Theresa Parker's bones were discovered after he had been behind bars for 12 months, located in September 2010 behind a Chattooga County cornfield near the Alabama state line.

Prosecutors and police argued that where she was found -- 13 miles from where Sam Parker grew up -- validated their story, but Sam Parker's family doesn't buy it.

They also believe that, without the body, the trial wasn't fair.

"I want them to prove without a shadow of a doubt that he did or didn't do it. Especially now that the body was found," Kenneth Parker said. "[Where she was found] blew their theory out of the water."

On Thursday, Sam Parker's attorney, David Dunn, will be given the chance to argue why Parker should get a new trial. In court before Walker County Superior Court Chief Judge Jon "Bo" Wood, Dunn will note that, after Theresa Parker's body was found, the medical examiner's findings didn't show injuries or bullet wounds that would have caused her death, according to the motion for a new trial.

"It is likely that, had said evidence been available to the time of trial, the jury would have reached a different verdict," the motion states.

Theresa's sister Hilda Wilson said the hearing brings back all the painful emotions from the trial. But the family is thankful that her sister has finally been found and buried and the defense can't try to argue that she is still alive, Wilson said.

"Since she's been found, there's 100 percent proof that she has definitely been murdered," Wilson said.

Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson will argue for the state, but she declined to comment before Thursday's hearing. In a previous interview, she said that the lack of a bullethole didn't matter because not all of Theresa's remains were discovered.

The motion for a new trial has been pending since Sam Parker's conviction in September 2009, but the legal process has dragged on, Dunn said. His motion says the trial was "erroneous" and claims that most of the rulings throughout the case have been denied, which resulted in an unfair trial.

Theresa Parker was 42 when she went missing on March 21, 2007. She was a pretty brunette, who was close to her nieces and was well known in the community as a well liked Walker County 911 dispatcher.

Sam Parker wasn't arrested for 10 months as police worked to build a case against him. He was jailed on murder charges in February 2008.

Prosecutors said he was abusive, obsessed, had a harsh temper and a sick sense of humor. He decided to kill his wife when she was about to leave him and he used his skill as an officer to hide her, they said.

But he has maintained his innocence throughout the years. Kenneth Parker said the family has believed him, but as the hearing approaches, they have tried not to get their hopes up that he will be given another chance.

"Whatever happens, happens," Kenneth Parker said. "Hopefully, the truth will finally come out in the end."

But Wilson wishes she and her family could have peace and that Sam Parker is sent back to state prison for life.

"[The motion] is something that has to be done," she said. "Hopefully, we can put this behind us."

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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