Parker Murder Trial Begins Penalty Phase
After hearing emotional testimony from family members of the victims, an Orange County jury Monday began the task of deciding the sentence for Gerald Parker, convicted last month of a rape and murder spree in the late 1970s.
The jury will decide whether Parker should face death or life in prison for killing five women and an unborn baby.
“Damn you Gerald Parker for ruining our lives,” said a teary and shaken Jackie Bissonnette, of Newport Beach, from the witness stand.
Her sister, 17-year-old Debra Lynn Senior, was murdered 19 years ago in her Costa Mesa apartment. Bissonnette, 40, said Senior was preparing to move back with her parents and attend college when she was killed.
“She never made it home,” Bissonnette said.
Her testimony moved many in the courtroom--including some jurors--to tears. Parker stared down and showed little emotion.
According to authorities, Parker, a former Marine sergeant based in El Toro, stalked his victims, entered their homes and bashed their heads with wooden boards or hammers. He then raped or attempted to rape them once they were unconscious. Senior and four other women--Sandra Kay Fry, 17, of Anaheim; Kimberly Gaye Rawlins, 21, and Marolyn Carleton, 31, both of Costa Mesa; and Debora Kennedy, 24, of Tustin--were found bludgeoned to death in their bedrooms.
A sixth victim, Dianna Green, 21, survived Parker’s attack, but she was nine months’ pregnant and her unborn girl died due to the injuries.
Green’s then-husband, Kevin Green, was convicted of the murder and spent nearly 17 years in prison before being freed in 1996 when newly available DNA testing technology led authorities to Parker.
Kevin Green, who now lives in Missouri, was in court Monday and said that despite his philosophical reservations about the death penalty, Parker deserves to die.
“I think he’s earned it,” he said.
Parker’s defense attorneys have argued that Parker, an admitted alcoholic and drug user, was not fully in control of himself when he committed the crimes.
“This man is not the same man he was in 1978, 1979 and 1980,” said David A. Zimmerman, who added that Parker has been taking drugs to control his violent urges.
In arguing for the death sentence, Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Jacobs described a pattern of violence by Parker, including a rape involving a 13-year-old girl who survived the attack, burglary and assault convictions.
The penalty phase of the trial is expected to last about a week.