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Man Sentenced to Death in Killings

Courts: Gerald Parker was convicted 17 years after a series of slayings. One victim's husband served time after being wrongly convicted.

January 22, 1999|DANIEL YI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Serial killer Gerald Parker, dubbed the "bedroom basher" for a rampage 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 latter victim's husband was later wrongly convicted of the crime.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno told Parker his "inhuman behavior is beyond belief" and rejected defense arguments that he was a drug addict and came from a troubled family.

Several relatives of the victims addressed the court--some saying the end to the long-running case would help bring closure. But others said 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."

One of the victims, Dianna D'Aiello, survived the attack, but the unborn child she was carrying died as a result of her injuries. D'Aiello's husband at the time, Kevin Green, was convicted of the murder and spent nearly 17 years in prison. Green was freed in 1996, when officials acknowledged that they had convicted the wrong man.

D'Aiello has maintained that she still partially blames her ex-husband for their baby's death. She said she believes both Green and Parker attacked her the night of the rape, with Green assaulting her first. When her ex-husband left, Aiello said, Parker broke into her apartment shortly after. 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 now lives in Missouri and has remarried, said his ex-wife's comments should not detract 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."

Parker, 43, was convicted in October. According to authorities, Parker knocked his victims unconscious with a blunt object and raped or attempted to rape them before killing them. 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 proceedings. He declined to address the court.

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."

Assistant Dist. Atty. Mike Jacobs, who prosecuted Parker, said he has no doubt that the right person is paying for the crime.

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