Witnesses testify to violence, threats by Sam Parker

Witnesses testify to violence, threats by Sam Parker

August 27th, 2009 by Chloé Morrison in News

LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- Attorney David Dunn asked witnesses in the murder trial of Sam Parker on Wednesday if they were testifying against his client to pay back personal vendettas.

Mr. Dunn asked Tabitha Thomas, a friend of Mr. Parker and his wife, Theresa, for about seven years, if she was angry at his client, a former LaFayette police officer, because he didn't protect her from getting arrested in a 1998 LaFayette drug bust.

"Isn't your testimony motivated by anger toward Sam?" he asked.

"No, it has nothing to do with that," Mrs. Thomas said.

Mr. Parker is on trial in Walker County Superior Court, accused of killing his wife, a Walker County 911 operator. He has pleaded not guilty, and the trial is in its second week.

Mrs. Thomas formerly was married to Mrs. Parker's brother and was friends with the Parkers. She said Mr. Parker threatened to kill her and her whole family after she called the police about child support issues with Mrs. Parker's brother. She said she was so fearful she and her family moved out of town to get away from him.

"He said, 'I've killed before and I'm not afraid to kill again,'" Mrs. Thomas said. "I was scared to report (it to police). I was scared of Sam. Sam was the police, and it would've been his word against ours."

Mr. Parker's ex-wife, Keila Beard, also told the jury about two incidences of violent physical abuse when she was married to him. They divorced in 1990.

"He held me down and choked me," Mrs. Beard said. "He pulled out a revolver, put it to my head and told me if my daughter wasn't in the other room asleep, he'd blow my brains all over the wall."

That wasn't the only time Mr. Parker had abused her, she testified. After she asked about a woman she saw him talking to at a gas station, he became angry, dragged her by her hair into the bedroom and handcuffed her to the bed, she said.

"I'd never experienced anything like that before," Mrs. Beard said. "I was very scared. It was like my world was crashing down."

Mr. Dunn asked Mrs. Beard why she never reported the incidences.

"I didn't feel it would do any good," she said.

Max Morrison, a friend of Mrs. Beard's, also testified that he knew about one of the violent encounters when it happened, and that he and Mrs. Beard discussed how to handle the situation.

At the time, Mr. Morrison was on the LaFayette City Council, so he approached Mr. Parker's supervisor, the late Charles "Dino" Richardson, who had been the city's chief of police for decades.

Mr. Morrison testified that Mr. Richardson didn't think it was his business to get involved in someone's marital affairs.

"I said, 'I agree, but it is my understanding that (Mr. Parker) was in uniform and on duty and I have a little problem with the city paying an officer to rough up his wife,'" Mr. Morrison said.

Mr. Richardson said he would talk to Mr. Parker about it, but no disciplinary action was taken, Mr. Morrison testified.

"I think it brought enough attention to it that (Mr. Parker) left (Mrs. Beard) alone," Mr. Morrison said. "I let it rest because Sam let it rest."


* Three officers from Panama City Beach, Fla., testified that, while on vacation with Mrs. Parker, Mr. Parker became drunk, violent and threatened to kill himself and his wife. The officers also testified that they confronted Mr. Parker about whether he fired a gun in the parking lot of a Panama City restaurant. The defense asked the officers if there was evidence of physical abuse and they said there wasn't, which was why they didn't press charges.

* The jury Wednesday was allowed to consider "similar transactions," or similar past behavior. The judge told jurors that the testimony is meant for a limited purpose, in part to help understand the defendant's character.

* A LaFayette police officer testified that he once saw Sam Parker drinking vodka while on duty.

* Several more witnesses today corroborated past witnesses' testimony that Mr. Parker made comments to them that he knew how to kill and how to hide a body where it never would be found.

* District Attorney Leigh Patterson played phone calls Mr. Parker made to two 911 operators a few days before his wife, Theresa Parker, disappeared. In the calls, Mr. Parker asked the dispatchers if Mrs. Parker was having an affair. Both said "no."