Friday, February 17, 2012

Hendry Murder Trial Delayed As Attorneys Wrangle

Attorneys Working Out Jury Instructions

LABELLE, FL. -- The triple homicide trial of Ruby Yolanda Parker has been delayed a few hours as the attorneys for the state and defense work out wording of jury instructions and the verdict form with Judge John E. Duryea, Jr.

(photo: Ruby Parker on witness stand during this week's testimony)

Duryea is the last judge among a half dozen to be involved in the case since Parker's arrest for the triple homicide in August 206.

At least four possible verdicts may be on the jury's final verdict form, including possibilities of 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, accessory, or not guilty to the state's original charge of three counts of 2nd degree murder of three Clewiston residents in 2006.

Arguments over what should be on the verdict form and jury instruction have delayed the closing arguments until at least 1:30 p.m. Friday. There is a possibility the jury may deliberate on Saturday.

The defense asked the judge for an order of acquittal this morning arguing Parker had no intent of home invasion or homicide, and did not assist Richard Harker as he killed Joey and Carolyn Whitaker and 80 year old Myrtle Cox, mother of Carolyn.

Ruby Parker, who testified in her own defense this week, is the only living witness to what happened August 15, 2006. Her boyfriend, Richard Harker killed himself with a gunshot to the head after the two went through a police roadblock on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation.

Parker's brother and sister have been in attendance throughout the trial. Harker's widowed wife Mary Harker, a former resident of Clewiston, testified Thursday.

The state countered the motion for acquittal saying Parker's original statements to the police did not match what she told the jury this week. Parker now contends she was held against her will by Harker, who demanded she follow his instructions or he would harm her. She told stories of his physical abuse towards her and his irrational behavior as they both were on cocaine, and he on marijuana as well.

The state also pointed out, Parker and Harker entered the Whitaker residence armed with a gun, Parker helped Harker tie up a victim's hands, Parker's fingerprint was on a Whitaker check that Parker took to a Clewiston bank to cash, and Parker used a credit card of the deceased victim to buy beer at Mary Lou's Market in Montura.

The state contends it is up to the jury to sort out what is the truth of the matter, and the veracity of Parker's testimony to the jury this week.

Judge Duryea denied the defense motion for acquittal. Duryea also agreed with counsel from both sides that the jury will not be able to bring their notes to the jury room, or court exhibits of firearms, videos, and audio. Duryea will allow the members to review their note before going to the jury room, and can see excluded exhibits in the courtroom is necessary.

One juror was previously excused among the 12 members and two alternates, leaving one alternate who will be excused when the jury panel goes to deliberate probably this afternoon.

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