Can Dog's Nose Crack Murder Case?

Even though Sam Parker's murder trial doesn't start until next month, we are getting a glimpse at some of the prosecution's ammunition against the former LaFayette Police sergeant.

This case marks only the fifth in Georgia state history where prosecutors have moved forward with a murder trial despite no evidence the alleged victim has died, according to the Lookout Mountain Judicial District's Public Defender's Office.

But the case is peppered with bits and pieces of what's called circumstantial evidence, like things people have said or done, even smells linked to a decomposing human body that a dog may or may not have detected. It's all coming out in Monday's pre-trial motions hearing in Walker County Superior Court.

The story revolves around Teresa Parker who seemingly vanished a little more than two years ago. Walker County was her home with family nearby and a career with Walker County 911 as a dispatcher. She was married to Sam Parker.

Prosecutors say he murdered his wife and has concealed her body so well it still hasn't been found.

That's the reality of this case - no body, no weapon and no physical evidence Mrs. Parker is dead.

But the F.B.I.'s top K-9 expert, Rex Stockham, came from F.B.I. headquarters in Virginia to say it's possible a couple cadaver search dogs may have picked up a whiff or two of the scent left behind by a decomposing human body. Searchers spent months looking for Mrs. Parker and any clues that could help investigators find out what happened to her.

But after hours of exhaustive testimony about how dogs are trained and what smells they may or may not detect Stockham said on cross-examination the dog's behavior "may not really mean anything."

It appears there's no question dogs have the ability to pick up on scents humans and machines can't detect, but the uncertainty lies in what scents dogs hit on and why they may hit on them. Stockham said dogs could be motivated by a food reward from their handler, or be influenced by other natural factors like the weather and the ground they are on. They also have abilities humans don't yet understand, according to Stockham.

After all the searching and after all the interviews with people, including those now deceased, prosecutors say they're ready to take their best shot at Sam Parker.

With so much information still missing and so much speculation from "expert witnesses" Judge Jon Wood will listen to the evidence this week and decide what can be used at trial August 17.

Parker remains in jail without bond. Testimony resumes Tuesday morning

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