Local News

Jury Finds Former Trooper Guilty of Murder

Posted October 8, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Former State Trooper Maurice Parker is going to prison for murder. After two-and-a-half hours of deliberations, the jury returned with the verdict - guilty of first degree murder.

The judge gave the jury the case about 4:30 p.m. Friday in the trial of the former state trooper, who was accused of killing a Cumberland County garage owner.

Parker sat quietly as he was found guilty of shooting car and body shop owner Vonnie Hall three times in the head.

After the verdict was read, Parker's mother had to be carried out of the courtroom by family members. Hall's family quietly wept as each juror read the verdict.

Parker's mother came back in the courtroom to say goodbye to her son one last time. She again had to be carried away as she insisted her son was innocent.

Deputies gave Parker five minutes with his wife. He was then led off to jail where he will stay until Monday, when the sentencing phase begins.

Parker could get life in prison, or the death penalty.

Family members of the trooper and the victim declined comment, as did attorneys on both sides.

The prosecution and defense summarized their positions for the jury Friday. Prosecutors told jurors their evidence shows Vonnie Hall was murdered as a result of money and greed. Defense attorneys claimed that there was reasonable doubt that Parker killed Hall.

Maurice Parker was smiling and seemed confident as closing arguments began. Prosecutors saidtheywere confident that they presented enough evidence to convict Parker.

The state said Vonnie Hall was killed by a man he was supposed to trust - a man in a state trooper uniform.

"As Vonnie Hall rolled down that window, Maurice Parker sped to the side of that vehicle, in close range and then it's bam, bam, bam. And Maurice Parker speeds off into the night in his North Carolina state highway patrol vehicle in uniform," Prosecutor Bunty Ruff said.

The prosecution wrapped up its case before the morning recess.

Parker's defense attorneys, who did not put a single witness on the stand, began their closing arguments after the recess. They reminded jurors the case is about fact, not about emotion.

"All we ask is that you use your reason and logic and common sense," Howard Kurtz told jurors.

They used closing arguments to blame the murder on co-defendant Michael Hall. They also discredited witnesses, and they tried to raise reasonable doubt.

Just 15 minutes into their discussion, the jury made a request of the judge. The panel asked to see Vonnie Hall's picture from the crime scene, autopsy photographs and Parker's statement to police shortly after his arrest.

Parker's conviction returned him to jail for the first time in three years. Parker spent five months in jail following his arrest, before he was released on bond.