Jones County man found guilty of murdering best friend
A jury deliberated for nearly three hours before handing down the guilty verdict Tuesday. A judge sentenced James Don Parker to life in prison. Parker will be eligible for parole in 30 years.
The courtroom was packed as the jury heard closing arguments in the murder trial.
Parker, 58, is accused of gunning down his best friend, 61-year-old Allen Helmuth, in February 2014. The men were best friends and neighbors. The fatal shooting happened inside Parker’s mobile home on Stallings Road in Haddock.
Jones County Assistant District Attorney Dawn Baskins told the jury Parker lied during his testimony about what happened the night of the fatal shooting.
“He [Parker] claimed he was beaten while he was laying on the floor,” Baskins said. “Ladies and gentlemen, he was laying on the floor an innocent man being beaten. See here’s the problem, his mouth lies but his pants don’t. According to the defense, that’s his blood all over the floor…shouldn’t it be on him somewhere anywhere.”
Parker’s defense attorney, Jeff Sliz, told the jury the men were fighting and Parker had no other choice but to shoot Helmuth in self defense.
“His [Helmuth] ability to reason and act rationally was gone when he chose to attack Parker, when he had a loaded gun and warned him to stop,” said Sliz. “He [Helmuth] looked at that gun and said basically in his mind you ain’t got the guts. I don’t believe you’re gonna shoot me and he gave him no choice but to shoot him.”
The jury found Parker guilty of malice murder and felony murder.