by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:GREENSBORO —
The parents of a missing Rowan County teenager Erica Parsons will face a speedy trial after pleading not guilty in federal court in Greensboro Wednesday.
One week after their arrest on 76 fraud and identity theft charges, Casey and Sandy Parsons were arraigned in front of a federal judge with a trial scheduled for Sept. 8.
“What the federal government is trying to do is make them see very clearly that they're not going to delay in this," said Charlotte defense attorney Brad Smith, who litigates many of his clients' cases in federal court.
Under federal law, cases must go to trial between 30 to 70 days after an indictment is filed, barring any continuances filed by either side.
Legal experts said federal prosecutors are putting pressure on Casey and Sandy Parsons with the tight timeline.
"Unless one of them flips on the other and provides information about this child, then they are both going to jail for a very long time," Smith said. "I think this is the federal government's only real way to sort of insert themselves in between this relationship."
Sandy Parsons refused to answer reporters' questions outside the federal courthouse Wednesday but experts said when it comes to talking to federal investigators, either spouse only has a short few weeks to make a decision.
Plea agreements must be filed by Aug. 28.
"When you're charged with federal offenses, and you have the federal government using all of its resources to bring a case against you, it's usually a really good case," Smith said.