Crystal Parker and Danielle Alexis Parker had been an item, off and on, for roughly six years, authorities said.
They shared last names, a home, bank accounts and a ceremony celebrating their union, the way many couples do.
Prosecutors claimed Wednesday that Danielle Parker killed her romantic partner, an East Point police officer, in early July after the two had split up and she learned that Crystal Parker had moved on.
“They spent the night together … and on the morning of (July) 4th, Crystal Parker called a new girlfriend,” Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Ana-Helena R. Allen said during a probable cause hearing for Danielle Parker. “That morning, something happened, and Crystal Parker ended up dead with a bullet in her head in her bedroom, inside her own home.”
She was found dead July 7 of a single gunshot wound that investigators believe came from a .35-caliber bullet.
Fulton County Magistrate Judge Karen Smith Woodson found probable cause on Wednesday to charge Danielle Parker with malice murder, aggravated assault, felony murder and possession of a gun during the commission of a felony in connection with Crystal Parker’s shooting death.
Prosecutors also accused Danielle Parker of breaking into her ex-girlfriend’s home and stealing an X Box gaming system weeks before the shooting and pilfering $1,200 the day of the shooting. Woodson, however, didn’t find probable cause for charges of burglary and theft by receiving.
Among other things that helped lead investigators to Danielle Parker were text messages to Crystal Parker’s co-workers and emails to her new girlfriend, police said.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the lead investigator pointed to greed and jealousy as the possible basis for Danielle Parker’s motive to kill her ex-girlfriend.
“Crystal treated her very well, always money flowing, trips and everything,” Fulton County police Detective Rashad Hudson testified. “Now that she had someone new, (Crystal) very much liked the new young lady.
“Danielle was also one of the main beneficiaries on Crystal’s insurance.”
Hudson testified that the last person to speak with Crystal Parker was a girlfriend in Florida early on the morning of July 4.
That was after Crystal Parker and Danielle Parker had spent the night together.
Hudson told the judge that evidence from cellphone towers pointed to the two being together in the home Crystal Parker owned on Creel Road in unincorporated south Fulton County on the night of July 3.
“I believe the shooting happened on July 4 sometime between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.,” Hudson said.
Cell tower information showed that both women’s phones were together as, according to what Danielle Parker told police, she traveled from the Creel Road home via MARTA bus to the H.E. Holmes MARTA station, then with a friend to the Wal-Mart in Lithia Springs, Hudson said.
“At 1:30 p.m., we saw the victim’s phone ping off a tower on Connally Drive near the H.E. Holmes station,” he said. “Then we saw Danielle’s phone and the victim’s phone ping off the same tower at the same time at Wal-Mart. Both phones were together.”
The slain officer’s phone sent another ping — a signal from either a call, text message or email — near Danielle Parker’s home on Fairburn Road in Atlanta, Hudson said.
That afternoon, when Crystal Parker was due at work, her captain sent her a text message inquiring about her whereabouts. The reply was that she was at the hospital with her father.
When a sergeant sent a text message the next day asking how she was doing in the wake of her father’s supposed hospitalization, Hudson said the response was, “OK. How are you?”
Around that time, Hudson said Crystal Parker’s new girlfriend received messages via Facebook that were vulgar and uncharacteristic of the officer.
“We spoke with Dad, and he said he hadn’t talked to Crystal in a week and he hadn’t been in the hospital,” Hudson said. “We were able to say that Crystal was not making those messages.”
Police also found a pair of $600 bank transfers from Crystal Parker’s personal bank account to two accounts that she shared with Danielle Parker, both within an hour of the time frame in which investigators believe Crystal Parker was killed.
When police arrested Danielle Parker on July 9, she was found in the possession of the X Box that had been taken from the Creel Road home, as well as Crystal Parker’s wallet with bank cards and cash and a number of pieces of mail addressed to Crystal Parker.
Investigators also found a single .35-caliber bullet in the room of Danielle Parker’s mother, Hudson said.
Defense attorneys questioned whether Crystal Parker, who had won Officer of the Year honors over three consecutive years with East Point, had made enemies in her career who were seeking revenge.
“Have you investigated the avenue that maybe there were some defendants that she arrested that were unhappy with her?” public defender Stanley Constant asked.
“No,” Hudson replied during cross-examination.
But Allen repeated the motive of a lover scorned.
“Danielle Parker, who’d had a nice life with Crystal Parker, all of a sudden found herself living at her mother’s house in her little brother’s room,” Allen told Woodson, the judge. “The state would ask that you find probable cause for malice murder.”
Danielle Parker remains in the Fulton County Jail awaiting a bond hearing scheduled for Aug. 7.