A 23-year-old Culloden man pleaded guilty to murder and armed robbery Thursday in the 2005 stabbing death of a 72-year-old Macon grandmother.
Richard Brandon Parker was sentenced to life without parole for the slaying of Mary Alice Stefano and a consecutive life sentence for armed robbery.
Parker’s death-penalty trial had been scheduled to begin Monday in Bibb County Superior Court.
Prosecutor Nancy Scott Malcor said she and fellow prosecutor Sandy Matson decided to offer Parker a plea bargain after reviewing juror questionnaires and discussing options with the Stefano family.
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“The victim’s family agreed,” she said.
Stefano’s son, George Stefano, said he’s glad more than four years of waiting ended Thursday afternoon.
“This is the best we can expect,” he said as he left the courtroom.
Malcor said Parker confessed to killing Stefano.
He had talked with Stefano in her Clairmont Avenue yard about a tree stump and asked to go inside at one point to use the restroom. While she wrote down his name and phone number, he struck her with a cast-iron frying pan, Malcor said.
Stefano ran from the house, screaming. But Parker grabbed her and took her back into the house, Malcor said.
He put a plastic bag over her head to try to stop her from screaming, but when she continued to yell, he stabbed her in the neck with a pocket knife, Malcor said. An autopsy report showed that she was stabbed more than 40 times in the neck, chest and abdomen.
George Stefano and his wife went to the home about 7:30 p.m. because they hadn’t been able to get in touch with Stefano. They noticed that her car was missing from the carport. Inside, George Stefano found a trail of blood stretching from the living room to a basement utility room, where he found his mother’s body, Malcor said.
Police officers found Parker’s name and phone number written on a calendar in the kitchen and called the number. They spoke with Vanessa Rozier, Parker’s aunt, who said she’d dropped off Parker at Gold’s Gym on Riverside Drive to do some painting, but found that he never went inside.
Officers also found Parker’s fingerprint on a TV sitting on the floor in Stefano’s house, off the stand where it belonged.
Police learned that Parker called his grandmother in Hazlehurst and asked for directions to her home. A lookout was issued for Stefano’s Cadillac DeVille. Jeff Davis County deputies found the car and Parker at the home of one of Parker’s friends in Hazlehurst. He had Stefano’s credit cards and jewelry. A jacket he brought with him was stained with Stefano’s blood.
While he was in jail in Jeff Davis County, Parker is reported to have threatened a deputy, saying “he would do him like he did the old lady,” Malcor said.
Parker confessed to the killing after Macon police picked him up, Malcor said. He said he wanted to run away, and it was easier to hit Stefano with the frying pan than ask for a ride, she said.
Parker’s attorney, Gladys Pollard, said Parker was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the killing.
Parker asked for the Stefano family’s forgiveness in court Thursday before he was sentenced.
“I am remorseful,” he said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could give my life to bring Mrs. Stefano back.
“I have to live with myself for the rest of my life.”
Four people still face a possible death sentence in connection with three Bibb County cases.
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, is 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. His co-defendant, 35-year-old Shauntrice Murry, also faced the death penalty, but she pleaded guilty to two counts of murder March 10 and was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences.
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 also initially sought the death penalty against 29-year-old Crystal Mae Wagner, who pleaded guilty to murder and concealing a death in the killing of her husband, Bobby Gene Wagner on Feb. 9, 2005. She was sentenced to life in prison March 16.
It’s been five years since a Bibb County defendant has gone to trial before a jury facing the death penalty and 23 years since a Bibb jury has returned a death verdict.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report.