2nd degree murder charge from alcohol-fueled gunplay bound over to grand jury

Becky Campbell • Updated Feb 20, 2019 at 6:57 PM

 A Greene County man charged with killing a man he was drinking with told police he had cleared ammunition from a handgun prior to firing the fatal shot.

Justin Wills, 30, 3875 Erwin Highway, Afton, was in General Sessions Court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on second-degree murder and aggravated assault charges related to the shooting death of 24-year-old Joseph Parlier, of Chuckey, around 10 p.m. on Feb. 6.

The two men were at 502 E. Maple St., the apartment of a mutual friend, Jonathan Parkins, the the day before the shooting as well as the evening of the incident.  The three men had been drinking together — Wills said he started drinking beer around 8:30 a.m. that day — and Parlier came over later that day.

Johnson City Police Investigator Gary Wills (no relation) read Justin Wills’ statement for the court. In part, it said:

“It was getting dark and Jonathan said Frodo, who is Joe (Parlier), was coming over. We kept hanging out and I was sitting in Jonathan’s wheelchair and I got up and opened the door for Joe. We both walked to the bedroom. At some point without Joe being in the room, I cleared the weapon, my Kimber 1911 .45 and showed it to Jonathan to show him it was clear. Joe was in the hallway and I jokingly made a statement about him being scared. I pointed the Kimber at Joe, and he grabbed the barrel and pushed it against his forehead. I pulled the trigger and it clicked. I lowered the gun. I don't’ recall what happened next, but the same scenario happened again. I had the gun pointed at him again like before and it went off. He fell on his back and I tried to help him by stopping the bleeding, but it was from his head. I lifted his head up, and Jonathan was on the phone with 911. I saw the bleeding wasn’t stopping, so I left him.”

Justin Wills was taken into custody as soon as police arrived. Parlier was transported to Johnson City Medical Center, where he later died.

Sessions Judge Don Arnold also heard testimony from Parkins, who said Wills didn’t mean to shoot Parlier and was very upset after the gun went off.

Arnold bound the case over to the next grand jury and set Wills’ court appearance for May 20. He also lowered Wills’ bond from $100,000 to $75,000.

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