New Developments In Sam Parker Murder Case

A Walker County judge has decided what kind of evidence can, and can not be used against Sam Parker.

Parker is about to go on trial for killing his wife Theresa even though police have never found her body or evidence she's dead.

Some evidence the prosecution team spent a tremendous amount of time and money on will not be allowed against Parker.

Remember last month, when the prosecution showed the judge the video of cadaver dogs in action? Prosecutors argued the dogs alerted their handlers back in 2007 to the smell of a decomposing body near Teresa Parker's car and Sam Parker's garage.

Lisa Higgins with the Louisiana Search and Rescue Dog team testified in July "almost immediately I gave the command and she hit really hard, worked very, very hard inside the wheel well on the driver's side and gave a full indication right there."

After further cross examination it was learned that cadaver dogs can hit on other things, like pigs, or bark when they're excited about something not connected with the search. Parker's defense team argued that evidence should be thrown out since no one knows what excited the K-9's.

Walker County Superior Court Judge Jon "Bo" Wood agreed, saying in a previous case the Georgia Supreme Court "decided the alerts should not have been admitted."

The FBI had great interest in the Parker case because it was going to be a "test case" where cadaver dogs would help in the prosecution of a no body murder trial.

But on another issue Judge Wood sided with prosecutors about deputies going on Parker's property without a warrant. Judge Wood concluded in his July 31 ruling "...the Court finds that the officers had a right to be on the property of the Defendant and alleged victim for a safety/wellness check."

Theresa Parker seemingly vanished more than two years ago without a trace. Her husband Sam is accused of killing her despite no body and no evidence she's dead.

"When you don't have the body you don't have the best, single piece of evidence in a murder case," according to Thomas "Tad" DiBiase.

Dibiase was a federal homicide prosecutor for more than 12 years in the District Of Columbia who has spent the last five years researching so-called "no body murder cases."

The Parker murder case is only the seventh case known in Georgia where prosecutors have gone to trial without a body. DiBiase found the six previous Georgia cases span from 1949 to 2005. All but one in 2001 resulted in a conviction.

One of the more recent was the case against Calvin Hinton in Atlanta, who was convicted in 2005 for killing 19-year-old Shannon Melendi. Her body was never found before trial, but after his conviction Hinton admitted he burned and then buried her body in his yard.

In the Parker case we have yet to hear about any other physical evidence that could help win a conviction.

"Typically in an investigation the public does not know all the information that is there, so that's the first caveat, you can never predict what the police or the prosecution may have that hasn't been revealed yet," DiBiase said.

Dibiase said in most no body cases a conviction is based on three factors: there is forensic evidence tying the suspect to the victim, the accused gives a confession or the accused tells someone else about the crime.

Since the cadaver dog testimony won't be allowed we're not sure what physical evidence prosecutors may have.

We do know that the prosecution team is under pressure to make a challenging case. Chattanooga criminal defense attorney Jerry Summers, who's not involved in the Parker case, gave us his perspective about prosecutors under that kind of pressure.

"Of course there's an inordinate amount of public pressure in the Sam Parker case, it's been highly publicized and unfortunately that sometimes puts pressure on prosecutors because prosecutors are publicly elected," Summers said.

The process of picking a jury begins August 17 in Bartow County, Georgia. Jurors will be sequestered and brought to the Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette for the trial.

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