August 27, 2014

Man’s name cleared in death of wife after 56 years, could get $500K (AUDIO)

Attorney General Jon Bruning gestures toward Darrel Parker during news conference. Parker’s attorneys stand next to him.

Attorney General Jon Bruning today publicly apologized to a man wrongly convicted of murdering his wife in 1955 and recommended the man be awarded half a million dollars under the state wrongful conviction law.

During a news conference in Attorney General Jon Bruning’s Capitol office, Bruning issued the apology to Darrel Parker.

“Mr. Parker, on behalf of the state of Nebraska, I want to apologize to you for your wrongful conviction in the 1955 death of your wife,” Bruning stated.

“Thank you very much, sir,” Parker replied.

“I’m sorry,” Bruning continued.

“Thank you,” said Parker.

“And, I want to announce publicly that we believe Mr. Park to be innocent,” Bruning said.

Parker spent 14 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in the murder of his wife, Nancy, in late 1955. The courts eventually ruled the interrogation methods used coerced Parker’s confession. The State of Nebraska Pardons Board issued paroled Parker in 1970. He received a pardon in 1991, but still struggled for full vindication.

 

Darrel Parker answers questions during news conference.

During the news conference, Parker acknowledged his faith faltered at times.

“Believe me, there were some dark days,” Parker said. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”

The darkest day came in 1970 when the Supreme Court overturned an Appellate Court’s ruling in his favor, a ruling that stunned Parker.

“As soon as I saw that, I said to myself, I said, ‘My God, I’m going back to the penitentiary. How can this be?”

The big break came in 1988. Convicted murderer Wesley Peery confessed in prison to killing Nancy Parker, among others. Peery was serving time on death row for the murder of Marianne Mitzner of Lincoln. He had done work around the Parker’s home in Lincoln. Peery raped, bound and strangled his victims, the same method used in Nancy Parker’s murder. Peery’s conviction had been protected by attorney/client privilege until made public after he died of a heart attack in 1988.

Parker, nearing 81, now has his name cleared.

AUDIO: Attorney General Jon Bruning holds a news conference with Darrel Parker. [9:20]