After eight months in jail, Joshua Parker might get to go home if his family can make the $250,000 property bond.
Wednesday afternoon, Calhoun County Circuit Judge Debra Jones issued a written order to reduce Parker’s $500,000 bond by half, according to court records. Jones met with a prosecutor and Parker’s attorney, David Johnston, Monday to discuss the bond reduction after Johnston requested a hearing about it.
Parker, 23, was arrested and charged with murder in January after Deatrice Barclay, 42, was shot and killed outside of his home on Permita Street in Saks. Joel Abbott, 24, was also charged in connection with the shooting.
“I started working on getting him out as soon as his lawyer called me,” Joshua Parker’s father, Jimmy Parker, said by phone Thursday. “I wish it had been at least $100,000 less, but I’m doing everything I can to get him out. He doesn’t belong there.”
In a recent interview at the Cleburne County Jail, where Parker remained Thursday night, he maintained that the shooting was self-defense.
“I don’t belong here,” he said, talking through a thick window in the last of five visitor stalls, partitioned off by cold, metal walls. That Sunday, Parker was one of two inmates talking with family, tears welling up in his eyes behind his glasses. His facial hair was patchy and unkempt, unlike the mugshot law enforcement agencies provided after his arrest.
“He doesn’t belong here,” Jimmy Parker said again before reassuring his son to keep his head up. “I’m supposed to protect him. That’s my job as his dad and I can’t do that while he is in here.”
According to 911 records from that Jan.15 night, Abbott and Barclay got into an altercation in the road on Permita Street. Both Barclay and Abbott were shot, and Parker told a 911 operator that he fired Abbott’s gun “and the guy went down,” according to the transcripts.
Several in the community have alleged the shooting was connected to race, pointing to evidence of a Confederate flag attached to the truck belonging to Abbott’s girlfriend. Johnston, however, argued Monday that his client had no connection to the truck or the flag that night, a point Parker also made during the jail visit.
Parker was with his fiancee that January day visiting a relative in Gadsden Regional Medical Center, going to the movies and picking up dinner before stopping by a friend’s house on Permita Court, just up the road from the shooting, Parker recounted.
“The first I saw Joel was when they pulled up to the house,” he said. “I was never in that truck that night.”
District Judge Chris McIntyre declined to reduce both Parker’s and Abbott’s half-million bonds in February after taking the issues under advisement. Jones, in April, initially declined to reduce Abbott’s $500,000 bond and said she would rule on Parker’s at another time, but never did until Wednesday. In June, prosecutors made a deal with Abbott’s attorney, Bill Broome, to drop his bond to $50,000 if Broome withdrew a speedy trial motion. Abbott was released from the Etowah County Jail, June 27, according to jail records.
Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh said during the June hearing that the prosecutors preferred to try Parker first because he allegedly was the one who fired the shot that killed Barclay.
“If he’d just left it alone, both these guys would still be alive instead of just one,” Deatrice Barclay’s uncle, Charles Barclay, said by phone Thursday, echoing what Assistant District Attorney Lynn Hammond argued during the hearing Monday.
While Barclay wished Jones had kept the bond at $500,000 he said the $250,000 bond was acceptable.
“I’m comfortable with the $250,000,” he said. “I think the judge probably did the best she could. I just fear for the safety of our neighborhood if he makes the bond.”