Mental evaluation not complete for man accused of shooting woman found in Lion's Park

Becky Campbell • Nov 19, 2013 at 7:03 AM

A Johnson City man’s attempted murder trial in an alleged beating that left a woman severely injured will not go forward today because a mental health treatment facility has not completed his evaluation.

Eric Parker, 48, is charged with attempted first-degree murder in the Feb. 14, 2012, incident. Johnson City police investigators and prosecutors say he left a bar with the victim, who ended up with several gunshot wounds, a belt and phone charger cord around her neck and left in a parking lot.

The woman was found in the parking lot of the Lions Club, 817 Country Club Court, by a city police officer on routine patrol that night. Investigators developed Parker as the main suspect after witnesses said they had left Everett’s Bar and Grill, located at 1121 N. Roan St., at the same time. During the investigation, officers said they found the woman’s cell phone in Parker’s car as well as a box of Blazer Marakov 9 mm bullets.

Investigators found six Marakov shell casings found near where the woman was lying. A loaded handgun was also found in Parker’s vehicle, police said.

Court records said when officers made contact with Parker outside an Englewood Boulevard residence, there was a dark stain on his shirt that appeared to be blood. But there is no indication in a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lab report that Parker’s shirt — or any of his clothing except a pair of pants — was ever tested.

And while the pants did have a “limited amount” of DNA and a presence of blood, tests could not show it belonged to the victim.

Parker had initially been charged with three counts of aggravated rape based on evidence — used condoms — found at the scene and a rape kit completed on the victim. But none of the DNA on those condoms or the semen found on the victim belonged to Parker.

The rape charges were dismissed earlier this year.

Also earlier this year, Frontier Health’s forensic services completed part of a two-part mental evaluation on Parker. The evaluation was supposed to determine if he is competent to stand trial, if he suffered from a mental disease or defect at the time of the offense or if he suffered from diminished capacity.

In a letter dated March 4, Dr. Diane Whitehead and psychological examiner Jorge Fuchs, told the court that Parker was competent to stand trial, did not have a mental disease or defect, that he has the ability to consult with his attorney and understands the charges he faces and that he did not suffer from diminished capacity.

During Monday’s hearing, in which defense attorney Donna Bolton said her client needed another evaluation, Cupp granted that motion and the motion to continue the trial.

Cupp also said he will sign an order for Frontier Health to complete the mental evaluation he said the facility had reported it couldn’t complete because some information was not provided.

“Frontier Health decided they wouldn’t do this evaluation because (they say) they’ve done it before,” Cupp said. “But they have not done it before because they said they didn’t have the proper things in front of them to do the evaluation.”

Cupp said that information has now been provided, but Frontier Health has reported back to the court the evaluation has already been done.

He set the trial for April 29 and said he will order Frontier Health to complete the evaluation.

Parker remains in the Washington County Detention Center on $50,000 bond while the case is pending. That bond was reduced from $200,000 after the rape charges were dismissed based on the lack of DNA evidence.

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