March 17 will mark the 25th anniversary of when Roger Lynn Parker was shot and killed at his Cedar Mountain residence, and his family is planning to attend a hearing to let a parole board know they feel Charles Ray Powell should remain in prison.
Powell is scheduled for an initial parole hearing at 9 a.m. on Feb. 20 at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville. The facility houses prisoners with multiple and complex medical problems.
Theresa Parker-Steele, the late minister’s wife, and sons Jonathan Parker and Brian Crisp said they feel obligated to let the parole board know they believe Parker, a Vietnam veteran, would still be a threat to society if he were released on parole.
They said they plan to be at the hearing with other family members and friends in force to make their stance abundantly clear.
Jonathan, 33, was 9 at the time the shooting had occurred and testified the following year during Powell’s trial. He said that although it’s been 25 years since his father was killed, the incident is something that he will never forget.
He testified in October 1996 that he was home sick when the incident occurred just before noon on that day. He said he was in a living room playing a video game.
Jonathan said he heard a knock at the front door and when he went to the door, Powell, a neighbor, was standing there.
Jonathan said Powell asked him where his father was, and Powell was told Jonathan’s father — who had completed third-shift work at CKR Industries several hours earlier — was in his downstairs bedroom. He added that he noticed Powell attempting to hide what appeared to be a gun behind him while standing in the doorway.
Jonathan said he went upstairs at Powell’s command. While there, he said he heard what appeared to be an argument between Powell and his father, and Powell said: “You told me wrong,” and gunshots were fired.
He had said he couldn’t recall the number of shots, but it sounded like “boom, boom.”
“I heard daddy scream,” Jonathan said, adding that he started crying and prayed the elder Parker would be okay. He said he had heard vulgar language being used by Powell.
Jonathan said he attempted to call 911 from an upstairs phone in Brian’s room, but Powell had already picked up the phone downstairs. He said he put the receiver down and heard Powell say he was going to take out a knife and cut out the elder Parker’s heart.
Jonathan said a short time later he went downstairs and saw his father lying in his underwear in front of a couch on the living room floor. Blood was abundant throughout the room, he said. Powell was there, sitting on the couch, but said nothing, according to the younger Parker.
Jonathan testified he fled, running to the back of the house, jumping off a deck and running through nearby woods in his stocking feet.
He said he was later picked up by a neighbor who, along with help from another neighbor, tended to his feet, injured from running without shoes down a gravel road.
Witness Barbara Faris, an attorney, testified she had seen Powell while representing him in a previous case, and his mental state did not appear normal.
She said he was clutching a cushion to take the place of a child “taken out of his arms” by the Department of Human Services which had taken away his children after facing problems with a girlfriend.
District Attorney Mike Taylor told the jury during closing arguments that Powell suspected Parker of reporting him to Human Services, which prompted the shooting. He said Powell was not mentally incapacitated because he planned the shooting, walked over to the house, knocked on the door, told Jonathan to leave and then killed Parker.
Jonathan said last week that he fears Powell would seek revenge for being incarcerated for the past 25 years.
Brian said that through case records, he’s seen letters from Powell where he had apparently tried to get information about jurors who served during the trial.
Brian also said that Powell has tried several times to get a new trial.
“That lets me know he’s never been sorry for it,” he said.
Theresa backed up her son’s statements.
“He had written letters, and he wanted to get names of jurors,” she said, referring to Powell. “Who’s to say he wouldn’t look them up.”
Theresa said that in addition to having family and friends at the parole hearing, others have written letters stating how they believe Powell should remain in prison.
“He’s been there 25 years, and he doesn’t need to hurt anybody else,” she said, adding that releasing Powell would put others in danger.