A trial date has been set for the 24-year-old Culloden man accused of fatally stabbing a 72-year-old Macon grandmother more than two dozen times in 2005.
The trial for Richard Brandon Parker is scheduled to begin April 19, according to Bibb County Superior Court records.
It’s been five years since a Bibb County defendant has gone to trial facing the death penalty and 23 years since a Bibb jury has returned a death verdict.
Parker is charged with murder in the Dec. 3, 2005, death of Mary Alice Stefano. He allegedly walked to Stefano’s home on Clairmont Avenue and later stabbed her repeatedly with a pocket knife. He has been held at the Bibb County jail since his Dec. 4, 2005, arrest, according to jail records.
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A scheduling order filed in the case instructs attorneys to be available to try the case through May 21, or until the trial is completed.
“We are very anxious to try this case,” said prosecutor Nancy Scott Malcor, declining to comment further, citing the pending case.
Messages left Wednesday for Parker’s attorney, Gladys Pollard, were not returned.
Bibb County District Attorney Howard Simms said the lapse in time since the last death penalty case went to trial in Bibb County wasn’t caused by his office putting the brakes on seeking the death penalty.
“We just can’t get the cases to move,” Simms said.
Typically, defendants in death penalty cases are either represented by attorneys at the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender in Atlanta or by local attorneys paid by the state, he said. The Capital Defender Office is the state entity that provides indigent defense in capital cases.
With the Capital Defender Office representing multiple defendants in cases across the state, scheduling hearings can be “a scheduling nightmare,” Simms said.
The situation is further complicated by a lack of funding available for defendants through the state, he said.
“It’s been totally bogged down,” Simms said.
Lawyers also file hundreds of motions before the case can go to trial, he said.
Aside from Parker, three death penalty cases with five defendants are pending in Bibb County.
Antron Fair, 25, and Damon Jolly, 24, are charged with murder in the death of Bibb County deputy Joseph Whitehead. Whitehead was fatally shot while helping to serve a no-knock warrant March 23, 2006, at a house off Montpelier Avenue.
Anthony Braswell, 38, and Shauntrice Murry, 35, are charged with murder and arson in the July 14, 2008, death of 2-year-old Hezekiah Harris and 4-year-old Tydarious Harris that resulted from a house fire at 417 Moseley Ave.
Jomekia Dechelle Pope, 33, is charged with dousing his girlfriend, 26-year-old Latosha Taylor, with gasoline and setting her on fire in August 2005. Taylor suffered second- and third-degree burns over 95 percent of her body and died at the Augusta Burn Center two months later.
Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty against Crystal Mae Wagner, 29, who is accused of killing Bobby Gene Wagner on Feb. 9, 2005. She waived her right to jury trial earlier this month in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty.
Her case is scheduled to be heard by a Superior Court judge next month.
Tony Hurst was the last person to go to trial in Bibb County facing the death penalty. In 2005, jurors convicted Hurst in the Thanksgiving 2002 stabbing and slashing death of Sara “Von” Hawkins and her 9-year-old son, Christopher Willis. But in the death penalty phase of the trial, jurors spared Hurst’s life and sentenced him to life in prison.
The last death penalty conviction in Bibb County was in 1987. A Bibb County jury sentenced Keith Patillo to die for the Feb. 19, 1987, rape and beating death of Stephanie McLamb. Patillo’s sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
Mitchell Terry Mincey was the last person executed after being sentenced to death in Bibb County. Mincey was sentenced to die in 1982 for the April 1982 robbery and murder of Paulette Riggs at a south Bibb County convenience store.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.