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Murder defendant Gregory Parks testifies he was removing old carpet, not hiding evidence

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GREENVILLE — As Gregory Parks continued with his testimony Thursday afternoon, he told jurors he wanted to clear up a particular issue - his bedroom carpet. 

"There's been a lot of talk about that carpet," Parks told jurors. 

Parks, who is accused of kidnapping and killing Isabel "Chaveli" Palacios, spent several hours on the stand Thursday. He said after hours of smoking crack cocaine on July 31, 2015, Palacios also smoked a hallucinogen-laced marijuana blunt. Parks said it made her "woozy" and she vomited on his bedroom carpet and comforter. He also testified she cut her hand on the broken glass of his bedroom window. 

Parks said he cleaned it up as best he could before falling asleep after Palacios left around 2 p.m. that day. He said she got in the car with another man after she couldn't find her car keys. 

Parks testified he didn't notice how bad the smell was until Shannon Dunn, a woman with whom he spent the following day chasing crack cocaine, mentioned it to him. After all, he had been in a drug-fueled state of mind. 

Parks said he pulled up his bedroom carpet on that Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015, after the missionaries from his church - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - visited with him at his home. 

Parks told jurors that in addition to the smell, he said after many years of smoking crack in his bedroom, broken pieces of pipe stem glass were embedded in the floor. 

"That carpet had been in my house for over 40 years," he said of his childhood home. He said he was also trying to do renovations to fit his style since his parents had died.

"When I pulled this section up, it looked like black mold to me," Parks told jurors, adding that his mother had a terrible and unexplainable cough before she died. 

"When I saw that black mold, I thought this might be what hurt Mama," he said. 

Parks also said the carpet was dirty after years of being inside the home. 

"There wasn't no blood on that carpet," he testified. 

Parks said if there was blood, Dunn and the Wilson police officers who had been in and out of his home on July 31, 2015, would have seen it.

THE CARPET

Police found a large swath of carpet padding in a trash can outside Parks' home, but they never found the actual carpet removed from his bedroom, according to previous testimony. 

State crime lab experts testified the carpet padding tested positive for Palacios' blood. Police found red carpet fibers leading from Parks' bedroom to the side entrance of his home as well. They also found several of those red fibers inside the trunk of his vehicle. 

Parks, who was slated to have knee surgery during that time in 2015, said he hauled it off to the corner of Reid Street and Ward Boulevard where people place junk for others to pick up. 

Parks testified he wasn't trying to hide the fact that he pulled up his bedroom carpet. He said his normal trash pickup day was Friday. And that's why he took it to the corner. Police testified earlier that they went to that area but never found any red carpet fibers. 

'I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE I NEEDED ONE'

Parks claims that three police officers came by his home for a third time on Aug. 3, 2015. While there are no records of this visit, Parks contends it occurred. Parks testified the officers were concerned that Palacios' car was still in the driveway. He claims they went through every room of his home again but didn't find the woman. 

Parks said after detectives visited his home on Aug. 4, 2015, he saw them later and they told him to go down to the police station. There has been dispute as to whether this conversation took place, according to pretrial testimony. 

Parks went to the police station where a nearly two-hour recorded interview ensued. He did so willingly, he said. He wasn't under arrest. And he didn't ask for an attorney either. 

"I didn't feel like I needed one," Parks testified. "Because I hadn't done anything." 

Parks also gave detectives his cellphone on that day, which he hasn't seen since. He also testified the he noticed a sheet of paper during that interview that showed Palacios was a gang member. Parks' defense attorney, Tom Sallenger, has suggested Palacios was a member of the 252 gang. 

'THEY CAME IN DEEP'

Several hours after that Aug. 4, 2015, interview with police, Parks said he was in his bed after what he described "a long, hard weekend." 

Before he could get to the front door, he saw flashing lights and several police officers. When he opened the door, they handed him a search warrant. 

"They came in deep," Park said.

He said police placed him in handcuffs and told him he was being detained. Other officers followed inside. 

"The army marched to the back," he said. "They had control of my house for nearly two months." 

For the next couple of weeks, Parks, who wasn't under arrest at the time, stayed at various motels. Wilson police paid for the rooms.

'I WAS SHOOK'

Parks was at the Quality Inn on Aug. 19, 2015, when he saw patrol cars surrounding the area, he said. That's when police placed him under arrest. Parks' attorney, Tom Sallenger, asked him what was going through his mind when detectives told him he was being charged with murder. 

Parks paused for a couple of seconds. 

"Whew," he said. "I was shook. I was shook they charged me with murder. It was a missing persons case." 

Police took Parks to one of the police substations in the Five Points neighborhood. He waived his rights and gave police another recorded interview. This one was more than nine hours long. 

"I wanted to get my side out," Parks said. "They arrested me first, and it went from there." 

NEXT WEEK

Court will resume Monday for the fourth straight week of testimony after jurors had the day off Friday due to government buildings being closed for Veterans Day. 

The defense isn't required to call witnesses or introduce evidence in a criminal case because the burden of proof is on the state. A defendant, who is presumed innocent, also isn't required to take the stand on his own behalf. 

The defense is slated to show jurors one of the interviews Parks gave to police. Prosecutor Joel Stadiem has yet to cross-examine Parks. 

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons Jr. is presiding over the trial. 

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