Jurors took less than an hour to find a Sandy Springs pet store manager guilty for the attempted murder of his wife, a local attorney.
Michael Parson, 43, sat expressionless as foreman Cesar Marin read the verdict. Parson’s mother, sitting alone two rows behind her son, quietly wept
The family of Parson’s ex-wife, Adina Broome, could barely contain their emotion. The 41-year-old lawyer, confined to a wheelchair as a result of the shootings, was not present for Thursday’s proceedings but may attend Friday’s sentencing.
“This has been truly overwhelming,” said Broome’s aunt, Pam Dickerson. A close friend of the victim, Lisa Baker, comforted Parson’s mother as the courtroom emptied.
“I wanted to let her know we were all feeling the same sadness,” she said.
Broome was shot eight times outside the couple’s Sandy Springs apartment in April 2012. She lost an eye and the use of her right arm and right leg, and she struggles to speak. Parson was arrested for the crime in May 2012 near the Mexican border.
Overwhelming circumstantial evidence, along with a blown alibi and the defendant’s mounting lies, all but assured a guilty verdict, said Marin.
“The smoking gun was the cell tower evidence,” the foreman told reporters.
Signals from nearby cell phone towers placed Parson outside his apartment – not at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur, as he told investigators – just minutes before his wife was shot eight times.
“It’s impossible to be at the VA and not hit that tower,” said Fulton County Deputy District Attorney Linda Dunikoski.
Meanwhile, the defense presented no witnesses. Parson’s attorney, Robert Booker, even conceded his client cheated on his spouse, deceived his girlfriend and lied about having spinal cancer.
“There have been an abundance of theories, but they haven’t presented a single eyewitness or a single iota of evidence,” Booker said in his closing argument. “All we have is mere circumstantial evidence.”
Though Parson’s deceptions were revealing, his candor in letters written while being pursued by police read like a confession, Dunikoski argued.
In the missives, Parson apologized to his parents for letting them down and to his son for presenting a poor example. To his 21-year-old girlfriend, Rachel Harner, he wrote: “You really were the love of my life. If I wasn’t a sociopath we would’ve done amazing things together.”
Parson was motivated, the prosecutor said, by a desire to be with Harner, who testified her paramour lied about his age, health and marital status.
She didn’t find out the truth until after Adina Broome was shot. Harner, enlisted in the Marine Corps at the time of the shooting, said Parson had told her Adina was his aunt who was staying with him until her new home was built.
“This was cold, this was merciless, this was planned,” Dunikoski said.
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