LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- Denise Parker told the jury Friday that her high school sweetheart turned ex-husband Sam Parker never abused her during their marriage of nearly 10 years.
"He was always quiet and gentle and loving," she told Mr. Parker's lawyer, public defender David Dunn.
Mr. Parker, a former LaFayette police sergeant, is charged with killing his third wife, Theresa Parker, in March 2007. Denise Parker was the last witness called before the defense rested its case Friday. Closing arguments begin Monday morning.
The day's proceedings ended abruptly Friday after the testimony of the only defense witnesses -- Ms. Parker and Martha Lewis, who lived on the same street as the Parkers. At that point, Mr. Parker told Judge Jon "Bo" Wood that he would not be taking the stand.
"My decision is not to testify," Mr. Parker told the judge.
With that, the defense rested.
"That means the evidence in this case is closed," Judge Wood told the jury. (Monday) we will have closing arguments followed by the charge of the court. I caution you that, even though the evidence is closed, do not try to arrive in a verdict in your own mind."
During cross-examination by District Attorney Leigh Patterson, Ms. Parker also testified that she had witnessed Mr. Parker's temper and that her husband hid his drinking from her.
The young couple began dating when Ms. Parker was about 14 and Mr. Parker was 17. They married just out of high school and moved to Virginia, where he began his military career as a Marine. A few years later the couple moved to back to Trion, Ga.
Mr. Dunn questioned most of the defense witnesses about what it was like to grow up in the sleepy mill town of Trion in the '60s and '70s and about Mr. Parker's parents.
"They were the greatest people in the world," Ms. Parker said about her former in-laws. "They were the mother and father everyone would have loved to have."
After moving back to Trion, Mr. Parker worked in the cotton mill for a short time, but he wasn't happy, his ex-wife testified.
"He said that wasn't the life for him," she said.
Ms. Parker was in the antique business and traveled to antique shows on the weekends. Mr. Parker found work at the LaFayette Police Department working the late shift, and Ms. Parker said conflicting schedules took a toll on the marriage.
Under cross-examination, Ms. Parker said her husband resented that she made more money than he did. She also acknowledged that she was once afraid of him after he gave her a chilling look because he blamed her for getting less on their tax return than he was expecting.
Earlier Friday, Mr. Dunn called Mrs. Lewis to the stand. Mrs. Lewis, who lived on Cordell Avenue where Sam and Theresa lived, said on the evening of March 22, 2007 -- the day after Mrs. Parker was last seen -- she saw two strange men in the Parkers' garage, which was detached from the home.
When questioned by Ms. Patterson, Mrs. Lewis' statements about the color of the truck the men drove and their physical descriptions contradicted what she previously told investigators.