SANTA ANA — A former Marine suspected of being the county's feared "Bludgeon Killer" nearly 20 years ago was indicted Tuesday on six counts of murder that carry a possible death sentence.
The Orange County Grand Jury returned the indictment against Gerald Parker, 41, after hearing several days of testimony in the last week.
Parker, who investigators say confessed, has pleaded not guilty to the murders, including one case in which another man was wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Jacobs said prosecutors will probably decide within a month whether to seek a death sentence if Parker is convicted.
Parker, whose life has been spent between prison and homelessness since a 1980 conviction for raping a 13-year-old Tustin girl, was charged with the killings last month. Investigators said a new system of genetic testing linked Parker, a state prison inmate, to attacks on young women who were raped and bludgeoned in their Orange County homes during 1978 and 1979.
Parker spent 7 1/2 years in the Marine Corps, including stints at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, before being sentenced to six years in prison for raping the Tustin girl.
Authorities say they now have evidence linking Parker to the slayings of Sandra Kay Fry, 17, of Anaheim; Kimberly Gaye Rawlins, 21, of Costa Mesa; Marolyn Carleton, 31, of Costa Mesa; Debora Kennedy, 24, of Tustin; and Debra Lynn Senior, 17, of Costa Mesa.
He is also charged in the 1980 bludgeon attack on 21-year-old Dianna Green and the murder of the full-term baby she was carrying, Chantal Marie Green. Kevin Lee Green of Tustin, who was convicted and imprisoned for 17 years in the attack on Green, his wife at the time, was freed from custody with Parker's arrest.
Navy officials continue to investigate the possibility of Parker's involvement in additional slayings across the country.
The indictment includes special-circumstance allegations of multiple murder, which makes Parker eligible for a death sentence or life in prison without parole if he is convicted. He also faces special-circumstance allegations that the slayings of the women occurred during burglaries and rapes.
Prosecutor Jacobs declined to comment on testimony presented to the grand jury, and James Enright, Parker's court-appointed defense attorney, could not be reached for comment.
The prosecutor said it is too early to tell how long it will take for the case to reach trial. But seeking a grand jury indictment, rather than holding a public preliminary hearing, ensured that the case would move more quickly to trial, with possibly reduced pretrial publicity, Jacobs said.
Members of the grand jury conduct their inquiries behind closed doors and hear only the district attorney's evidence concerning the accused. Unlike preliminary hearings, grand jury proceedings offer defendants no opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or present evidence.
Parker, whose criminal record includes robbing a 30-year-old Pasadena woman and beating her with a pipe, was in a Central California prison for parole violation when authorities accused him of the slayings.
He is scheduled for arraignment Thursday in Orange County Superior Court.