Serial Murderer Receives Death Penalty for ‘70s Rapes, Killings
Serial killer Gerald Parker, dubbed the “Bedroom Basher” for a spree of sex slayings that terrorized Orange County in the 1970s, was sentenced to death Thursday after an emotional hearing in which victims’ families spoke of their years of anguish and loss.
Using new DNA technology and a computer database, prosecutors developed the case against Parker 17 years after he raped and murdered five Orange County women and killed the unborn child of a sixth woman. The surviving victim’s husband was later wrongly convicted of the crime.
In handing down the sentence, Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno told Parker his “inhuman behavior is beyond belief” and rejected defense arguments that Parker’s life should be spared because he was a drug addict and came from a troubled background.
Family members of the victims who addressed the court said the end to the long-running case would help bring closure, but that they remained emotionally crushed by the murders.
Parker “will have a peaceful death” by lethal injection, said Jackie Bissonnette, whose sister Debra Lynn Senior, 17, was among Parker’s victims. “Our sisters, daughters and friends were left bleeding to die.”
Victim Debora Kennedy’s sister, Ann Jones, said her younger sister’s murder has had a devastating effect on the whole family. Jones said that, even after all these years, she still doesn’t leave a window open or answer the phone when her husband is not around.
“I think the fears that I feel will always be with me,” she said. “I’m trying to get over this, but I’m not sure that I ever will.”
Jones said her 24-year-old sister was a warm and loving person, and that knowing her killer has finally been found, convicted and sentenced brings some respite.
“In that aspect, it is closure,” she told the court.
One of the victims, Dianna D’Aiello, survived the attack, but her full-term fetus died as a result of her injuries. D’Aiello’s then-husband, Kevin Green, was charged with the murder and spent nearly 17 years in prison. Green was freed in 1996, when officials acknowledged they had convicted the wrong man.
D’Aiello has maintained in the past that she still partially blames her ex-husband for their baby’s death. She has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him, and on Thursday reiterated her claim.
“I feel that I’ve been beaten and raped by two men. By a stranger and by a man who I loved and trusted,” D’Aiello said in court.
Green, who lives in Missouri and has remarried, said his ex-wife’s comments should not take away from the judge’s decision.
“As far as Dianna and all that kind of stuff is concerned, I just wish that wasn’t a distraction on this date,” he said. “I figure the man has earned what he was been sentenced to, and I hope this gets closure to all of those other families.”
Assistant Dist. Atty. Mike Jacobs, who prosecuted Parker, discounted D’Aiello’s charges against her ex-husband and said he has no doubt that the right person is paying for the crime.
“We were convinced an innocent man was in prison, and ethically, to get him out of prison was the right thing to do,” he said after the sentencing hearing.
Parker, 43, was convicted in October. According to authorities, Parker knocked his victims unconscious with a blunt object and then raped or attempted to rape them in one of the most notorious serial killing sprees in county history. During police interviews and the trial, Parker confessed to the crimes and said he was remorseful.
On Thursday, a bearded Parker, wearing shackles and a jail jumpsuit, stared straight ahead during most of the proceeding. He declined to address the court. While his case is automatically appealed, Parker will be sent to San Quentin State Prison to await his execution.