Man sentenced to 33 years in death of woman in abandoned home

Defendant, who has denied involvement, was convicted largely on 'CSI-like' evidence, prosecutors say

July 08, 2010|By Brent Jones, The Baltimore Sun

A 45-year-old man found guilty of killing a woman in an abandoned house was sentenced to 33 years in prison, a ruling that drew applause from the victim's mother, who had asked the judge to keep the defendant behind bars for life.

Darnell Jeter of the 5000 block of Walther Ave. was convicted in May largely on what prosecutors have called "CSI-like" forensics evidence that linked him to the murder weapon and crime scene. Police found the victim, Theresa Parker, 39, unresponsive on the second floor of a home in the 1200 block of Treeleaf Court, in the Somerset Projects, in March 2007.

An autopsy later revealed that Parker sustained 16 blunt-force-trauma injuries to the head and was strangled. Police discovered that Jeter — also known by the nickname "New York" — sometimes lived at that location. They also found DNA underneath the fingernails of the victim and on the hammer believed to be the murder weapon, all of which matched the defendant's. Blood on the head of the hammer belonged to Parker, prosecutors said.

A jury took four hours before convicting Jeter of second-degree murder in Parker's death.

Parker's mother, Sylvia Johnson, did not attend the trial but gave a victim's impact statement to Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Emanuel Brown during the sentencing.

"I've never seen this man before in my life, but I think he should be in jail for good for the way he murdered my child," said Johnson, who clapped as the judge handed down the sentence. "She was my first child. She had a son who was 2 years old, and now we have to care for the son."

Motive for the attack remained unclear. Brown acknowledged as much during his ruling, saying "to date, the court has seen no sense of remorse from you. … I have no explanation, and there is no explanation provided."

Jeter has denied any involvement in the killing.

The defendant's pastor, the Rev. Jo Farley of the Christ Institutional Baptist Church in Baltimore, said Jeter was being considered to become a deacon.

Farley said she met Jeter in 2006. A week later, he was baptized and became a member of the church, where Farley said he worked with the homeless outreach ministry and performed minor repairs.

"We know him to be a good brother," Farley said.

But Jeter has a long record of convictions, including two sexual assault cases in the 1990s in New York and a 2007 conviction in Maryland for failure to register as a sex offender. He was also found guilty of a probation violation in November 2009 and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

"Yours has been a life complete with crimes and violence," the judge said. "What [Farley] is saying pales in comparison to the whole picture."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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