Old murder case brought back to court

By: Megan Palera
mpalera@klkntv.com

For 56 years, Darrel Parker has been trying to clear his name after being convicted of his wife's murder. Now he just might get the justice he's been looking for.

In 1955, his house was the scene of a brutal murder. Nancy Parker had been raped and killed inside her bedroom and her husband, Darrel, locked up for the crime, but the former Lincoln forester says he was wrongly accused.

In fact, another convict later confessed to the murder of Nancy and 12 other people. That wasn't revealed until after his death. Now the 79-year-old is suing the state and fighting to get his conviction overturned.

“I just can't imagine how they can withdraw what they've said when they don't let me withdraw. What's good for the goose is good for the gander,” said Parker.

Parker is referring to a confession he made after his wife's murder, a confession that he served 13 years in prison for. He says he was coerced into it during an intense and brutal interrogation, techniques that were later found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Luck was finally on Parker's side when Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning admitted several times that Parker's confession was false.

But Thursday, the state asked the judge to keep that statement from being used as evidence in the case. “An admitted fact is an admitted fact. The state cannot say that Darrel Parker is prohibited from using the admitted fact of his confession being false to prove his own case. That's just not fair,” said Parker's Attorney, Dan Friedman.

Parker was pardoned by the state, but a pardon is not a declaration of innocence. His attorney says the battle now is all about Monday. “It takes a great country to admit its mistakes and thankfully in 2009, our state passed a wrongful conviction compensation act which gives people like Darrel a path to vindication,” said Friedman.

Parker could get up to $500,000 in compensation. It's going to be several months before we'll know if his conviction will be overturned. The state could not be reached for comment after Thursday's hearing.