by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Both the prosecution and defense in a case against a Sandy Springs man accused of shooting his wife agree the defendant was leading a double life, engaged to be married to another woman and lying to both women about it. But while prosecutors say it was Michael Parson’s motive, his attorney argues there’s no evidence he pulled the trigger.
Channel 2's Mike Petchenik was there as Adina Broome, formerly Parson, sat in a wheelchair in a Fulton Superior courtroom Tuesday, just feet from her ex-husband Michael Parson. Michael Parson is on trial, accused of shooting her eight times last April outside their Sandy Springs apartment complex. Adina Parson has lost use of an eye and has a hard time speaking, her mother testified.
“This is about a man who is done with his wife and has fallen in love with a 21-year-old Marine,” Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski told jurors in her opening statement. “Michael Parson had been living a double life, a complete and separate double life.”
Dunikoski told jurors Parson gave police a bogus alibi on April 20, saying he was getting treatment for back pain at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Decatur. Dunikoski told jurors phone records will show Parson was near his apartment complex and had lured his wife out of her apartment in order to shoot her and that he had a friend stand in at the VA pretending to be him.
She said Michael Parson was having an affair with and engaged to be married to a Marine named Rachel Harner he’d hired while working as a manager at Petland in Dunwoody. Dunikoski said Parson told Harner that Adina was his aunt.
“A, good kind person was mercilessly gunned down by a man who had fallen for another woman,” she said. “He seamlessly wanted to move from one world into the next.”
Prosecutors allege he had dinner with his “other family” the night after the shooting, then took his fiancée to a hotel in Norcross and had sex with her, while Adina Parson struggled to survive at Grady Hospital.
Harner took the stand and talked about how she met Michael Parson after he hired her at Petland.
“It was friends with benefits,” Harner said of their initial relationship.
Harner testified the relationship eventually escalated and that Michael Parson eventually asked for her hand in marriage.
“I loved Michael,” she testified.
Harner said she didn’t know Michael Parson was married, and when she questioned him about female clothes and toiletries in his apartment, he told her they belonged to his aunt.
While Michael Parson was deployed in Afghanistan, she testified she did a video chat with him when Adina Parson walked in the room and kissed him on the mouth.
“I didn’t take too kindly to that,” she testified, adding that Michael convinced her it was his aunt who was staying with him.
After prosecutors sayMichael Parson fled to Texas, Harner testified that he continued to contact her, and at one point, sent her a letter from the Van Zandt County jail.
“At any point in that letter does he deny shooting Adina?” asked Dunikoski.
“No,” said Harner.
Michael Parson’s defense attorney, Robert Booker, told jurors this is not a divorce case. He conceded Michael Parson was having an affair, but said that wasn’t motive for attempted murder.
“They aren't going to be able to show you evidence he shot her,” he said. “ It's not about whether he cheated on his wife.”
Booker said the case is about faulty cell tower records and police unhappy with Michael Parson’s behavior after the shooting.
“They must prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Booker. “There is a complete lack of motive in this case.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday.