Oklahoma Man Serving 199-Year Sentence Seeks New Trial

In 1986, Alvin Parker was convicted of first degree murder in the death of Gary Lee Ward, an off-duty police officer working security at an Oklahoma City motel. Ward was attempting to prevent the theft of a television from the Holiday Inn on NW 39th Expressway when he was shot and killed. 10thcirThree years later, Parker was granted a new trial after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that a prosecutor--who was friends with the deceased man's brother-in-law--made inappropriate, inflammatory, and prejudicial comments to the jury. At his new trial, in 1990, Parker was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 199 years in prison. Parker has filed subsequent appeals, including one after the FBI discovered in 2001 that former forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist incorrectly identified hair found on the victim's clothing as belonging to Parker. Gilchrist was subsequently fired after investigation revealed that she had conducted faulty analysis and given false testimony in several cases. However, despite the fact that this evidence was proven invalid, Parker did not receive an appeal. Now, however, the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has cleared the way for Parker to seek a new trial in Oklahoma County District Court. The court's decision came after a key witness who identified Parker as the shooter swore under penalty of perjury that he lied during Parker's second trial. Glenn Briggs, Parker's cousin, says that he identified Parker as the shooter because he was scared. He says police told him he was being charged with murder, and because he only knew the first name Ward's shooter, he identified his "favorite cousin" Alvin Parker. In exchange for his testimony against Parker, Briggs's murder charge was reduced to grand larceny for stealing the television, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Briggs said that he believed that Parker would be set free after it was revealed that Gilchrist's evidence was faulty. However, he says that since Parker has yet to be exonerated, he feels it is "up to me to set things right." Briggs was the key witness for the prosecution at Parker's second trial. His testimony was critical to Parker's conviction, and the federal appeals court says that the case deserves closer scrutiny if the witness testimony used to convict Parker lacks credibility. Learn more about criminal appeals here, or contact us to schedule a free consultation and case review.    

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