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Man could go free after murder conviction reversed

Mar 14, 2011 3:25:00 PM - thestate.com
A Travelers Rest man won a shot at freedom Monday when the state's highest court reversed his murder conviction in the death of his sister's boyfriend and ordered that he not be prosecuted again because of prosecutors' mistakes at trial.

Jack Edward Earl Parker, 39, was arrested and charged with murder in the 2001 death of Robert Lee Stewart, his sister's boyfriend. Prosecutors argued that Parker shot Stewart in the chest and back as many as 14 times, something Parker's attorney said was done in self-defense.

Jurors deadlocked during Parker's first trial in 2003; defense attorneys argued that prosecutors had given them a crime scene video with graphic images redacted but showed jurors an unadulterated version. That trial judge granted a mistrial, and Parker was retried two years later.

At a 2005 trial, Parker was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. His attorneys asked the trial judge to dismiss that verdict because of double jeopardy, based on their argument that prosecutors knew they had a failing case and used the videotape to prompt defense attorneys to ask for that mistrial. But the judge refused, and Parker was sent to prison for life without parole.

In its ruling Monday, the high court said the second judge was wrong and should have granted that request because prosecutors had initially spurred defense attorneys into asking for the mistrial in the first trial.