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Testimony Again Recanted by Key Witness in Murder Trial

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Times Staff Writer

The brother-in-law of San Francisco accountant Richard Dale Wilson testified Thursday that the defendant never told him he planned to kill Jeffrey Malloy Parker, who was awaiting trial for the murder of Wilson’s fiancee when he was shot.

Robert C. Hale, who had been on the witness stand all week, made the admission under persistent interrogation by Tony J. Serra of San Francisco, one of Wilson’s two defense attorneys.

“My client never said he was going to kill Parker?” Serra asked during cross-examination of the key prosecution witness.

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“He never said that to me,” Hale replied.

It was the second time that Hale, of Wilmington, has recanted testimony he gave to an Orange County grand jury in March, 1986, that Wilson had told him he was going to kill Parker.

Wilson, 47, is accused of shooting Parker to death on the doorstep of the Costa Mesa home of Parker’s mother on Aug. 2, 1983. Parker had been charged with killing Joan McShane Mills, a 33-year-old socialite, during a night of violent sex, drugs and drinking at a Beverly Hills hotel on April 30, 1983.

Thursday’s testimony by Hale was consistent with what he said at a preliminary hearing last year in which he recanted his grand jury testimony. However, Deputy Dist. Atty. Douglas H. Woodsmall said at the time that Hale recanted because he was afraid of Wilson.

After Hale denied that Wilson had ever told him of plans to kill Parker, Serra asked him if Wilson had ever threatened him or if he was afraid of the defendant.

After responding that Wilson had never threatened him, Hale also said that he was “not afraid of him now.”

Hale also said that during 1986 and 1987, when he was questioned by Costa Mesa police detectives and later appeared before the grand jury, he was drinking heavily and undergoing psychiatric care.

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When Serra began questioning him Wednesday afternoon about his drinking and psychiatric problems, Hale said, “I was pretty screwed up.”

He said he could not remember calling Costa Mesa police detectives in 1986, although there is a telephone record that such a call was placed from his home.

Throughout much of the three days Hale spent testifying, he admitted to important lapses of memory. At one point late Thursday, an exasperated Hale told Serra: “I have been asked so many questions in the last two years. . . . I hardly remember my name.”

Hale said that during the summer of 1983, Wilson had been a frequent visitor to his home and that the family had several conversations regarding Mills’ death and Parker’s known drug activities and violence against women.

Mills had been badly beaten. A dozen ribs were broken, her liver was lacerated and several teeth were knocked out. Hale said that anyone who knew the details of Mills’ death “would have to hate that man (Parker). Anybody.”

Hale also said that Wilson had discussed with him and his wife motives that other people had for killing Parker because of his drug dealing and activities as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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“It was discussed that drug dealers were after him,” Hale said.

Hale will continue his testimony Aug. 29, when the trial will resume after a three-week recess.

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