I have a son, Brent Parris, who was wrongfully convicted of attempted murder. Get this.
He was sitting in his vehicle with his 10 week-old baby waiting for his girlfriend (mother of the baby) to come get in the Jeep. A man named Randy told a jury in Etowah County at Gadsden that he just got to thinking, "I don't like the way he treats his girlfriend. (For some weekends he and Brent had been watching TV together and they never had a cross word.) "So I got up from my seat, walked through the house to my room, opened my knife drawer, selected the knife I wanted to use, opened it, and carried it down by my side as I walked up to the Jeep." When he got there Brent rolled down the window to see what he wanted. Randy began stabbing him in the face and on the arm, while trying to kidnap the 10 week old baby. Brent remembered he had a small handgun and grabbed it and fired one shot to get Randy off him. Randy told the jury that, after being hit, he ran and dived between two cars in the yard in case Brent shot again. Katie jumped into the Jeep and they fled the scene. Her brother ran out on the front and fired two shots into the Jeep from a SKS .762 high powered rifle. One shot went just under the baby, blowing the seat belt loose from the vehicle; the other shot hit the drive shaft and deflected downward. Had it gone upward, it would have killed Katie. Officers arrived and filled out their reports (partially). [They never mentioned that Brent had been stabbed and had to go to the hospital.] They went to Randy and told him to go ahead and sign the warrant. Randy refused. He told them that he was the aggressor. He said that he was up there stabbing Brent and that Brent shot him and that was that. He refused to sign a warrant so his sister did. Somehow the DA turned it around and said that Brent was the aggressor (for sitting quietly in his Jeep) and that Randy (who was unprovoked and was stabbing him) was the victim. That's the way it went to trial. To our surprise, the jury came back with a guilty verdict and Judge Rhea sentenced him to 35 years. He is in his 8th year and we feel that is far too much. We are trying desperately to find help. Do you know of anyone who can help in this situation? I would appreciate any information on where we might find assistance. In the struggle, Curtis Parris
SELF- DEFENSE OR MURDER?
(A synopsis of the Brent André Parris criminal case)
This story represents a question of self-defense. It focuses on the case of Brent André Parris, who is currently serving thirty-five (35) consecutive years in the Alabama prison system simply because he caused serious injury when he tried to defend himself and his baby from an unprovoked attack by a drug-crazed knife wielding madman. A synopsis of the case follows:
On the night of April 12, 1997, Parris was spending time with his son in Gadsden, Alabama when a man approached his vehicle with a knife. The man - high on drugs and alcoholreached through the driver's window and stabbed Parris in the face. For almost a minute, Parris tried to wrestle the knife away from the man and was cut several times in the process. The man then tried to open the rear door of the vehicle and grab Parris' ten-week old son from his car seat. In the heat of the battle, Parris grabbed a pistol from the console and shot the man one time in self-defense. The attack on Parris was unprovoked; and Parris had blood in his eyes from being cut in the face. Within 3 to 5 seconds, Parris fired a single shot at the silhouette of the man who had stabbed him. For this, Parris was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The man who attacked Parris, Randy Davidson, was the brother-in-law of the child's mother, who was Parris' common law wife. Davidson admits that he attacked Parris with a knife, and that he attempted to snatch Parris' baby out of the car seat. His motive was to get the child and supposedly return it to its mother, but he never communicated this to Parris in any way. Instead, he stabbed Parris through the driver's window without saying a word. Parris never knew why he was being attacked nor why the man was trying to abduct his baby; thus, Parris was forced to protect himself and his infant son. At the time that he attacked Parris, Davidson was high on a number of drugs and alcohol. Blood was drawn at the hospital immediately following the incident. Drug screen test results show that Davidson tested positive for cocaine, marijuana, benzodiazapines (Valium), opoids (Loricet), and alcohol. When asked by detectives at the hospital why he had attacked Parris, Davidson said that he "just wasn't thinking straight." Davidson was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting, but he refused to sign a warrant against Parris, saying he knew Parris acted in self-defense. Despite all of this, Parris was charged with "Attempted Murder" for shooting his attacker. Davidson was never charged for stabbing Parris.
Click here for more details on the Parris case, or read on . . .
The TRIAL of Brent Parris
The trial in this case wasn't held until August 28, 2000 -- almost 4 years later. The trial judge, William H. Rhea, ruled almost from the beginning that all admissible evidence would be limited to things strictly beneficial to the prosecution. Among the most devastating rulings was the suppression of Davidson's medical records from the night of the incident. The drug tests were proof of Parris' claim of self-defense, but the judge ruled them "immaterial to the facts." The jury never learned that Davidson was under the influence of a drug cocktail, at the time he attacked Parris.
The Jury was never allowed to see up close the almost 9" long knife which Davidson used on the night of the incident to stab Parris,
The doctor who treated Davidson on the night of the incident was called as a witness by the prosecution. He gave conflicting and confusing testimony about the nature of Davidson's injuries. In his "Report of Operation", written on the night of the incident, the doctor wrote that he removed the bullet and the "spinal cord regained its natural configuration." At trial four years later, however , he testified that the spinal cord had been "severed instantaneously." In broken English, the doctor also testified "the shorter the point from where a bullet is shot, the big is the momentum, and the fast is the speed. As it loses momentum, it loses the speed, but it reaches the distance . . . that indicates to me that the bullet had lost at least fifty per cent of its momentum." The gun which Parris fired was a .380 semi-automatic pistol, and Davidson was approximately 6 to 8 feet from Parris when he was shot. To say that a bullet loses fifty per cent of its velocity after traveling 8 feet is preposterous. Whatever the corroborating witness meant was essentially irrelevant; Parris has never denied the fact that he shot Davidson. The only point in issue was why he fired that shot at Davidson. Trajectory was the crux of the prosecution's case, saying that Parris prematurely shot Davidson without giving him a chance to "waive off the attack" once he saw Parris had a gun. The prosecution maintains that Davidson was finished with his attack on Parris, who was therefore in no immediate danger. Parris has always maintained that Davidson was still an active threat at the moment he was shot, and that Davidson never attempted to "waive off the attack." To determine this point, the case hinged on eyewitness testimony. Parris was convicted on the testimony of two alleged eyewitnesses, both of whom had reason to lie -- both were related to the man who was shot. Parris has consistently held to his statement over the years, but both these eyewitnesses have told at least three different versions of the event. Witness # 1 was Kate Conner-Parris, who was the victim's sister-in-law. On the night of the incident, she gave a handwritten statement to the police saying that she heard a gunshot and then saw Davidson fall to the ground several seconds later. At the preliminary hearing, held less than 30 days later, she testified under oath that she did not see Parris shoot Davidson at all. She also told several different stories to family and friends during the 4 year span between incident and trial. Finally, at trial she testified that Davidson was turning to walk away when Parris shot him. There have been at least 4 different stories given by this witness, several given under oath. Witness # 2 was Bernice Conner, the victim's sister. She has also told at least 3 different stories over the years. On the night of the incident she gave a statement that Davidson was "lying in a mud puddle" when Parris walked up to him and shot him. She told another relative, (Michael Conner, her father-in-law) that she did not actually witness the incident, but had lied and said she did anyway. At trial, she testified that Davidson was attempting to walk away from Parris when he was shot. This witness also had charges for drugs and writing bad checks pending against her, in the same prosecutor's office, which were later dismissed following the trial. It appears that a deal may have been arranged in exchange for her testimony against Parris.
Pictures of the crime scene taken shortly after the incident. The only two true eyewitnesses in this case were the combatants, Parris and Davidson, and both of their stories mesh almost identically, except for a few minor discrepancies. Both agree that Davidson was the aggressor, armed with a knife, who attacked Parris unprovoked. Both also agree that within several seconds Parris shot Davidson from 6 to 8 feet away. The two were also in agreement that the shooting was justified in an act of self-defense, which was why Davidson refused to press charges against Parris. When Attorneys for Parris pointed this out, the prosecutor objected and said that the victim in this case was "the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama." Attorneys representing Parris at the trial did not put forth any defense whatsoever. No witnesses were called and no defense was given. The jury returned a verdict of "guilty" and condemned Parris to prison. It was later discovered that at least 5 of the jurors (5 out of 12) were related to each other by blood or marriage. The odds against this happening by coincidence are astronomical in a county of over 100,000 residents from which to draw jurors. You would have a better chance of winning the lottery than you would by drawing 12 names out of 100,000 and having 5 of them related to each other. The trial judge sentenced Parris to serve 35 consecutive years in state prison, an enormous amount of time, especially given the circumstances of the case. After all, the "victim" was the attacker who stabbed Parris and instigated the shooting. Even the man who was shot, Davidson, and most of his family, believe this sentence to be drastically excessive.
The true victim in this case is, of course, Brent André Parris. At the time of this incident, Parris was a 25 year old senior in college studying for a degree in Computer Technology. He worked as a lab assistant at Jacksonville State University, tutoring other students on computer networking skills. He had just celebrated the birth of his first child ten weeks earlier, and he was only months away from college graduation. His entire future looked bright until the night of April 12, 1997, when he was assaulted by a knife-wielding man on drugs. Parris was attacked, stabbed, arrested, locked up, beaten, and essentially sentenced to die in prison. He has depleted all of his resources on legal fees; his career is over; and his wife and friends have abandoned him. He is a victim of a judicial system out of control. Many people support Parris and feel that his actions were justified. At the sentencing hearing in this case, there were 735 local people who requested leniency in sentencing. They did not receive it. When the case was on appeal, over 6,700 petitions were sent to the Alabama Supreme Court from citizens urging the Court to reverse the decision, but they refused to even hear the case. Parris has only 2 more courts to which he may appeal before all his appeals are exhausted. If those 2 courts do not overturn Parris' conviction, he will have to
serve the full 35 year sentence. Parris has already served over 8 years in prison for defending himself, but the state of Alabama says he must serve another 27 years. Enough is enough! We urge you to take a moment to contact your local news media and officials to bring their attention to this issue. Let them know that you believe a serious miscarriage of justice has been served in Parris' case. Tell them you feel that citizens should have the right to defend themselves without fear of being prosecuted for harming their attackers. Remember that this could happen to you! Without public support, Parris will never be released from prison, so we urge you to help us correct this injustice.