Jurors Support Molestation Victim Found Guilty of Killing Guardian
When an 18-year-old native of the Netherlands is sentenced later this month for killing his guardian, a Dana Point man who had molested him for years, his staunchest supporters will be the jury that convicted him.
Since the conviction, one member of that jury has offered to take him into her home. Two others have offered him money.
In a highly unusual twist, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald has received letters from jurors, many of whom described the slain man as an “animal,” indicating they will speak on Joeri DeBeer’s behalf when he is sentenced on June 20. They say they plan to ask for probation.
DeBeer, who was tried as an adult, was convicted May 21 of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Phillip Allen Parsons.
During the trial, DeBeer testified that he had borrowed a gun and had shot Parsons in a fit of rage on April 9, 1985, after the older man tried to molest and then choke him.
DeBeer then put the body in Parsons’ van and drove to Riverside County, where he poured gasoline on the corpse and set it afire. He then returned to Dana Point and set Parsons’ apartment on fire.
He was also found guilty of using a weapon and arson and could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison or be placed in the California Youth Authority.
Joeri DeBeer was born in Bussen, the Netherlands. His mother later divorced, remarried and moved to Saudi Arabia, where Parsons met him. At the time, Parsons was working as a Bechtel Co. electrician, and expressed an interest in DeBeer’s love of motocross racing.
Parsons offered to bring the boy, then 13, to the United States and promised to make a motorcycle racing champion of him and to become his guardian.
DeBeer would later say, “It was the chance of a lifetime.”
In court, a different story unfolded. DeBeer testified that Parsons began to “use him” sexually four to five times a week.
‘Caught in Circumstances’
“Joeri got caught up in a web of circumstances far beyond his age, circumstances no one should ever go through,’ said juror Patricia de Carion of Santa Ana. “He was brought from a foreign country and could barely understand the language. He had no family here and was alone. He told Parsons he didn’t want to participate in the activities, and one evening, Parsons approached him again and again and Joeri pulled a gun on him. It went too far.
“Parsons got exactly what he deserved.”
Since the trial ended, some members of that jury have visited DeBeer at Juvenile Hall.
“I’m not a crusader, but I’m willing to do anything for him,” said juror Barbara Barrett of Santa Ana, who offered her home. “You have to know what he went through, and you have to put yourself in his place.”
Juror Paul D. Barnes of Anaheim, who offered DeBeer financial assistance, said, “First and foremost, DeBeer was a victim of an atrocious and ongoing act of molestation for four years. This man (Parsons) was an animal.”
Jurors who were interviewed said they viewed DeBeer as a hero for ridding society of a man like Parsons, who had a history of molesting boys.
According to Parsons’ criminal record, he was first arrested in June, 1951, at the age of 17 on suspicion of sexually fondling a boy in an Illinois theater. After moving to California, Parsons pleaded guilty to charges that he molested two 12-year-old boys.
DeBeer’s attorney, Gary Proctor, has insisted that Parsons was a sexual psychopath who abused his father-like authority to take advantage of DeBeer.
“I don’t see where putting this boy in prison or the California Youth Authority is going to do any good,” Proctor said. “I can only see the judge recommending probation.”
Proctor and jurors note that a family in Northern California that became acquainted with DeBeer when he was circuit racing in that area has told the county Probation Department that they want to become his foster family.
That family has offered a home, a college education and a new life for DeBeer, who still needs psychological counseling to help him deal with “four years of trauma,” Proctor said.
Would Monitor Progress
Juror Barnes, a bank vice president, said he is willing, if necessary, to make trips to Northern California to monitor the teen-ager’s progress for the court. Barnes said he made that offer after he visited DeBeer at Juvenile Hall.
“I had to find out something about this boy, so I went to visit him for an hour and a half. I had to find out certain questions for my own personal knowledge: Was he demented? Homosexual? Funny? Strange? Retarded? He was on the witness stand, but that was in a different environment.
“What I found was a very intelligent young man who likes girls a lot, he’s very courteous and he’s got plans. I don’t see where putting him in jail will make him better. It probably will just throw him into the same environment he had with Parsons.”
There is precedent for Fitzgerald to be lenient. In 1984, Robert Lee Moody, 19, of Pomona was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for shooting his father, who had sexually abused his own daughters, forced his wife into prostitution and viciously assaulted Robert Lee’s brother with a wrench.
A judge sentenced Moody to a suspended four-year prison term and put him on probation, ordering him to spend at least two years abroad working as a Christian missionary.
Gary Garriger, jury foreman in the DeBeer case, said it’s a matter of responsibility.
“We’re responsible for the Phil Parsons of the world who manage to get back on the streets. If we don’t step out and help to reach out and help the ones who are abused instead of hiding in a closet, then the Phil Parsons of the world are going to continue. Too many people in society walk around saying, ‘It hasn’t happened to me, so it doesn’t exist.’
“This boy can become a productive citizen. He needs that chance.”