Judge Jon “Bo” Wood filed his decisions on Friday, July 31.
Parker was charged in February 2008 with murdering his wife Theresa, a dispatcher with Walker County 911 who has been missing since the night of March 21, 2007. Her body has not been found.
Sam Parker was a sergeant with the LaFayette Police Department when she disappeared.
A jury will be selected from Bartow County, beginning Monday. The trial will begin Aug. 17 in Walker Superior Court.
Deputies’ testimony OK’d
Judge Wood ruled that testimony could be admitted in the trial from two Walker County deputies who went to the Parker residence on March 22, the day after she was last seen.
David Dunn, Parker’s public defender, had argued the testimony should not be allowed in the trial because the deputies searched the residence without a warrant.
The prosecution argued that the officers simply conducted a “welfare check” on Theresa, at the request of Rhonda Knox, a friend and coworker of Theresa. A “welfare check” is not a “search,” the prosecution argued.
Knox testified in pre-trial hearings in mid-July she received a call from Theresa’s phone about 6 a.m. on March 22. When she answered, the caller hung up. When she returned the call, there was no answer. So she asked Shane Green, who was then a Walker County deputy, to check on Theresa at her residence at 95 Cordell Ave. in LaFayette.
Walker County deputy Corey Griffin also went to the residence to conduct the “welfare check.”
The officers searched around the house. They also slightly opened the garage door and shined a flashlight inside to look for vehicles.
Judge Wood, in his ruling, said, “As to the March 22 search/seizure, the court finds that the officers had a right to be on the property of the defendant and alleged victim for a safety/wellness check. The intrusion was minimal. It was responsible that the officers find out if the occupants’ vehicles were present to satisfy their concerns. Once the officers ascertained that no one appeared to be home and that Ms. Parker’s vehicle wan not on the premises, the safety/wellness check was ended and the officers left.”
Dog evidence rejected
Judge Wood said testimony from cadaver dog experts won’t be allowed.
Dog experts testified in pre-trial hearings in mid-July that their dogs’ reactions during searches indicated the presence of decomposed remains. When a cadaver dog smells decomposing remains, it sends an “alert,” such as lying down.
The defense argued, among other things, that the dogs could not discriminate between human and other animal remains.
Judge Wood used several court cases to decide that testimony about the “alerts” should not be allowed in the trial.