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Jury Deadlocks, Former Trooper Receives Life In Prison

Posted October 12, 1998

— After a day and night of deliberations, a Cumberland County jury debating Maurice Parker's fate gave up. The former state trooper will spend life in prison after the jury deadlocked around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

It was a long and emotional day for everyone involved. The families of both the victim and the defendant cried as the life sentence was announced.

Jurors deliberated for almost five hours before they told the judge for the second time that they could not reach a unanimous decision, and further discussion would not change that.

Prosecutors argued with the judge that the jury should continue deliberations into tomorrow because it was not long enough for a case of this magnitude. Ultimately, the judge sided with the jurors.

Jurors were first deadlocked at eight-to-four, and after further deliberation ended at 6-6. The jurors would not say whether the first decision was for or against the death penalty.

Family members of the victim say they are not disappointed. In fact, they said that they prayed for Maurice's family.

The closing arguments wrapped up just before noon Tuesday in the sentencing trial of Maurice Parker. Friday, jurors convicted Parker, a former state trooper, of killing auto repair shop owner Vonnie Hall.

Jurors received instructions from the judge before beginning the sentencing phase of the case.

The last thing prosecutors told jurors was to think of the victim, Vonnie Hall. Prosecutors told the jury not to shrink from their responsibilities.

"One man killed another man over greed," prosecutor Charles Scott told the jury.

If anyone deserves the death penalty, Scott argued, Parker does.

"If he was bold enough to wear a badge, drive a state tax-paid car, that you and me and all these taxpayers paid for, and ride up here and put three bullets in a man's head, you need to be bold enough to go back there and vote for the death penalty," Scott said.

Scott says church members who testified on behalf of Parker were being used by the convicted murderer in an attempt to save his life.

Defense attorneys argued that the punishment should fit the person as well as the crime.

Defense attorney John Britt says Parker's life is worth saving because of his involvement in his church and his commitment to his family.

"What we have tried to do is to give you snapshots, glimpses into different parts of his life so that from that, you can have some type of understanding of where he came from, how he got to where he is and what kind of person he is," said Britt.


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