Ex-officer states Parker discussed shooting of wife

Ex-officer states Parker discussed shooting of wife

August 19th, 2009 by Chloé Morrison in Georgia

MORE FROM COURT

* According to the prosecution's timetable and theory, Sam Parker killed his wife between 12:30 and 1:25 a.m. on March 22. He then went to Christy Bellflower's house from about 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., calling Ben Chaffin from there about 4 a.m. Prosecutors say he had time to hide a body and clean up the mess because police didn't start investigating for about three days.

* Mr. Chaffin's immunity comes with two exemptions, lawyers said Tuesday. If prosecutors find out that he committed perjury during the trial or that he was involved in killing Mrs. Parker, the immunity won't be granted.

LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- Former LaFayette police Officer Harbin "Ben" Chaffin said he "blubbered like a baby" after his friend and co-worker Sam Parker called him and said he'd murdered his wife.

"(Sam) said he'd done it or was really going to do it," Mr. Chaffin testified in Walker County Superior Court on Tuesday. "He said he had a place (to hide a body that was) hard to find and that he'd shot Theresa through the head.

"(He also said) if I told anybody, he'd have to kill me, too," Mr. Chaffin said.

Mr. Parker, also a former LaFayette police officer, is on trial for murder. Prosecutors said he killed his estranged wife, Walker County 911 operator Theresa Parker, who was last heard from on March 21, 2007. Mr. Parker is charged with three other felonies that together carry a 25-year sentence.

Mr. Chaffin was jailed twice after Mrs. Parker disappeared and charged with four felonies, but he was never indicted by the Walker County grand jury.

Some in the courtroom gasped when Mr. Chaffin told the jury about the 4 a.m. phone call from Mr. Parker on March 22 , 2007. Many covered their mouths in shock. One woman wiped away a tear.

Mr. Chaffin testified that he didn't reveal information about the call to investigators because he didn't remember it the next day.

Christy Bellflower, a friend of Mr. Parker, testified Tuesday that Mr. Parker was at her house and used her cell phone to call Mr. Chaffin. Mr. Parker initially called to brag to his friend that he was with a busty blonde, Ms. Bellflower and Mr. Chaffin both testified.

Often appearing close to tears, Ms. Bellflower testified that she left the room for the rest of Mr. Parker's phone conversation and that she wasn't paying attention to what he said, so she doesn't know if he confessed to murder.

Mr. Parker's lawyer, public defender David Dunn, grilled Mr. Chaffin, saying interviews with police show that Mr. Chaffin told three different stories. But Mr. Chaffin insisted that he wasn't lying, he simply couldn't remember the details at the time.

Mr. Chaffin's answers were short and several times -- even with documented evidence of his past actions and interviews in front of him -- he said he couldn't recall details.

Mr. Dunn alleged that Mr. Chaffin was coerced and bribed by prosecutors and law enforcement into providing information, but the witness denied it.

The only time Mr. Chaffin showed emotion was near the end of his testimony.

"I have no reason to lie," he said, his voice cracking.

Bevin Walker, who grew up with Mr. Parker and came to watch the trial, initially said he didn't know what to think of Mr. Chaffin's testimony, but later said it had too many inconsistencies to be true.

"He is a liar," Mr. Walker said. "Ben Chaffin is a liar."

But LaFayette residents George and Janice Hixson said they believed Mr. Chaffin.

"I think he is sincere," Mrs. Hixson said.

Earlier Tuesday, the jury watched a video deposition given by the Parkers' neighbor, Virginia Cordell, who was elderly and sick. She died earlier this year.

As Ms. Dunn questioned Mrs. Cordell on the video, she sometimes had trouble recalling details, such as the address of her home on Cordell Avenue. She wasn't living there when she gave the deposition.

In the video, the small, white-haired woman wore an oxygen mask and testified that Mr. Parker told her he'd like to kill his wife.

"He said, 'I'd like to take a bullet and put it right between her eyes,'" she said. "I couldn't believe it."

The trial continues today in Walker County Superior