Three aggravated rape charges against a Johnson City man accused of shooting a woman and leaving her in a parking lot on Valentines Day last year were dismissed Friday in a Washington County courtroom.
Eric L. Parker, 48, is now only charged with attempted first-degree murder in the alleged beating and shooting. Police found the female victim lying in the parking lot of the Lions Club, 817 Country Club Court, while on routine patrol.
The woman had several gunshot wounds, and investigators said she had a belt and a phone charger cord around her neck. They also believed at the time she had been raped because they found several used condoms nearby.
Parker was arrested later the same day after investigators determined he and the victim were seen leaving a bar at the same time. Police also said they found a loaded handgun in Parker’s vehicle with bullets that matched shell casings found at the scene. The victim’s cell phone was also located in the car, police said.
Prosecutors found out in October that the DNA on the condoms was not a conclusive match to Parker. That led Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle to drop the three aggravated rape charges Parker had faced.
Prior to the announcement in court last year about the DNA results, Parker was held on $200,000 bond. Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp reduced it to $50,000 and was prepared to reduce it further after the charges were dismissed.
He delayed that ruling after granting Parker’s request that his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Bill Donaldson, be removed from the case.
Parker read a statement to Cupp accusing Donaldson, McArdle and Johnson City police investigators of misconduct since his arrest. He even said one police officer lied in a Sullivan County court hearing last year.
Parker told Cupp that Donaldson had ignored his requests to investigate issues related to his case, including his request for a “neuropsychiatric exam.” Instead, he said, Donaldson asked for a psychiatric exam nearly a year after the incident.
“Of course it’s going to come back to benefit the District Attorney,” Parker said. Cupp said that isn’t “necessarily so,” but Parker insisted the evaluation would benefit the state and not him.
He also said McArdle intentionally delayed dismissing the rape charges for months after learning the DNA was inconclusive, which put him in danger in the jail.
“Rapists and child molesters have a target on their back,” Parker said.
After allowing Parker to read most of his statement, Cupp agreed to let Donaldson out of the case, but warned Parker that other attorneys would be reluctant to take the case.
“Your problem is you think you know an awful lot about the law and I’m not sure you do. I’m going to have a difficult time getting a lawyer ... lawyers don’t like to deal with people who think they know more than them,” Cupp said.
Parker told Cupp he never claimed to know more than Donaldson, but that he had “issues and concerns” and Donaldson was not addressing those.
After releasing Donaldson from the case, Cupp set Parker’s case for April 17 to appoint a new attorney. He also took the case off the trial docket. It had been set for trial April 23.
In addition to facing the attempted murder charge, Parker is serving a six-year sentence on an aggravated assault conviction from Sullivan County.