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GREENVILLE — Gregory Parks was back on the witness stand Monday. But this time, prosecutor Joel Stadiem was in the driver’s seat, quizzing the 59-year-old murder defendant on his version of events.
Stadiem pointed out several issues with what Parks told police during two recorded interviews, including explanations of the blood found inside his Ward Boulevard home. Stadiem said Parks either changed his story or didn’t offer any information to police about the blood until they confronted him with what they found. Stadiem also argued that Parks left out several points raised the first time during his testimony on Thursday.
Parks, who is accused of kidnapping and killing Isabel “Chaveli” Palacios, is standing trial inside a Pitt County courtroom. Dozens of witnesses, police officers, forensic analysts and experts have testified in the trial, now in its fourth week.
Police say Palacios was last seen at Parks’ Wilson home on July 31, 2015. After that, she was never seen or heard from again. The 20-year-old’s body has never been found.
‘WE KNOW IT WASN’T VOMIT’
Parks initially told police during an Aug. 4, 2015 interview that Palacios had not bled inside his home, but then he told police they could have a found a speck because she had cut herself on crack-pipe glass.
Parks then told police during a Aug. 19, 2015 — the day he was arrested — that Palacios could have cut her hand on the window inside his bedroom, Stadiem said.
Stadiem also argued that Parks didn’t tell police about Palacios being on PCP, a hallucinogen, when Parks said she cut her hand on his bedroom window. He added that Parks didn’t tell police about Palacios allegedly throwing up on his bedroom carpet.
“I didn’t give them all those details,” Parks testified. “They didn’t ask.”
“Well, sir, they were asking about her welfare, weren’t they?” Stadiem asked.
Parks said detectives were asking him where Palacios was and where she went.
Parks told police Palacios walked away from his house that day around 2:30 p.m. after they spent hours smoking crack cocaine. Parks said she lost her keys and got a ride with another man.
“You didn’t tell officers that you had thrown a purple bathmat out with blood on it, did you?” Stadiem said.
“They didn’t ask me that,” Parks said. “No, sir.”
Stadiem said Parks hadn’t told police about the blood on the candlestick and blood on the lamp. He said Parks didn’t tell police that there were “droplets of blood” on the master bedroom wall, inside the deadbolt lock of his bedroom door and blood on the left side of the bedroom doorway.
“I didn’t know that myself,” Parks testified.
Parks said over the years, he’s had a lot of people come in and out of his home. He said he likely wouldn’t have noticed blood droplets because others had been inside his bedroom, some of whom used needles to shoot up heroin.
“The blood I saw was not significant to say someone was hurt to the point I would tell a police officer, ‘she’s hurt,’” Parks said.
Stadiem reminded Parks of a state crime lab analyst’s testimony that his carpet padding tested positive for blood, not vomit.
“Sir, we know it wasn’t vomit, don’t we?” Stadiem pressed.
Parks said the state tested certain swabs of blood and tried to combine evidence to make it seem like there was more blood than there actually was.
‘THE RING WAS NEVER AN ISSUE’
Parks testified last week that Palacios had given him her ring as they were smoking crack on July 31, 2015. Stadiem told Parks that “this story” about the ring was the first time Parks had ever explained how he got it.
“I haven’t talked to these officers in two years,” Parks said. “The ring was never an issue.”
Parks pointed out that officers didn’t charge him regarding pawning Palacios’ ring until three or four months prior to the trial.
“You did that for other reasons,” Parks told Stadiem. “They had no reason to ask me that and that’s why I didn’t tell them that.”
Stadiem argued that Parks didn’t tell police during his interviews that he had Palacios’ ring because he didn’t yet have the lab report that showed Palacios’ blood and DNA on it.
“You didn’t tell them one time that you had her ring, did you?” Stadiem said.
“They never asked me about a ring at any time,” Parks said.
“You didn’t tell them about it either,” Stadiem pressed.
“I didn’t tell them what I ate for breakfast,” Parks snapped back. “The ring was insignificant at that time. “There were a lot of things that weren’t brought up, Mr. Stadiem, that I didn’t have any idea about. I thought the whole while we were dealing with a missing persons case. When they interviewed me, everything we talked about was everything I knew about a missing persons case.”
‘YOUR ACES IN THE HOLE’
Stadiem pointed out that Parks told police during his Aug. 19, 2015 arrest interview that he said he had “aces in the hole” he wasn’t going to tell them about.
“And your aces in the hole would be the fact that they weren’t going to be able to find the body, right?” Stadiem pressed.
“I don’t know nothing about no body,” Parks said. “Because when I last saw Chaveli, she was walking away and other people, too, have seen her walking away.”
‘YOU HAD NOWHERE ELSE TO GO’
Parks has said he was cooperative with police and did everything they asked him to do even prior to his arrest. He has said he nothing to hide and nothing to run from. Stadiem said Parks had little choice.
“You had a $700 disability check that you’ve already spent on crack and on Saturday you had to borrow money to put gas in your car to get to your house,” Stadiem told him. “So you had nowhere else to go, did you?”
“I had plenty of places I could have gone if I had done this, that’s what I told the detectives,” Parks replied. “If I had done this, I would have robbed every bank from here to Miami, Florida and gotten away. But I didn’t do this, so I didn’t have to do that. I would have done that if I had been guilty.”
‘DID YOU KILL THAT GIRL?’
When Stadiem was finished cross-examining him on the stand, Parks’ attorney, Tom Sallenger had a few more questions for his client.
“Did you kill that girl?” Sallenger asked in a soft eastern North Carolina drawl.
“No sir, I did not,” Parks testified.
“Did you kidnap that girl?” Sallenger continued.
“No sir, I did not,” Parks said.