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Jury Recommends Death for Parker

Courts: Panel members, who had earlier convicted the 'Bedroom Basher' on six murder counts, need just 70 minutes to reach their decision.

November 13, 1998|DANIEL YI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Convicted killer Gerald Parker, known as the "Bedroom Basher" for a string of six sex crimes and murders he committed in the late 1970s, should be put to death, an Orange County jury recommended Thursday.

Jurors took just 70 minutes to render the decision, which came two days after Parker declared in court that his life should be taken if it brings peace to the families of his victims.

Those family members, who had been following the trial closely, let out sighs of relief when the sentence was read. "Yes!" one woman murmured from the front seats of the Santa Ana courtroom.

Parker sat silently, his hands crossed in front of him, as the jury of nine women and three men were polled one by one on their votes. Some of the jurors wiped away tears during the brief proceeding.

Outside the courtroom, jurors said the overwhelming amount of evidence against Parker was key to their quick decision. They said they were moved by the emotional testimony from the victims' families but not by Parker's admissions.

"I think remorse came a little too late," said juror Nan Smith, a retired teacher from Newport Beach.

Parker, 43, was convicted of six counts of murder on Oct. 20. Tuesday, he told jurors he was willing to die.

"If my life is what it takes for them to feel that their family members have been vindicated, then that is what I believe should be done," he said. "My life should be taken away from me."

The husband of one of Parker's victims, Kevin Green, spent nearly 17 years in prison for the murder of the couple's unborn baby, who died after the assault. Green was freed in 1996 after newly available DNA testing technology tied Parker to Green's case and others.

According to authorities, Parker, a decorated sergeant stationed at the Tustin and El Toro Marine bases when he committed the crimes, stalked his victims. He broke into their homes and bashed their heads with blunt objects before raping them, officials said.

Parker was serving time on another rape conviction when he was transferred to Orange County to face the new charges.

His defense attorneys argued that Parker was heavily intoxicated when he committed the crimes and should be spared the death penalty.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Jacobs said Parker's actions were indefensible.

"It was an atrocious case," he said. "It was one of the worst I have seen in my career."

The mood was celebratory among members of the victims' families, who gathered outside court to exchange hugs and congratulations.

"We are 99% there," said Jackie Bissonnette of Newport Beach, wearing a pin with a picture of her sister Debra Lynn Senior, 17, one of Parker's victims. "Now we have to get to the day he dies. We will meet again the day he gets what he has coming to him."

Judi Brown of Las Vegas, who lost her sister Sandra Kay Fry, 17, said: "He got the same sentence he gave all these girls."

Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno will formally sentence Parker Jan. 22.

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