by: Greg Suskin Updated:CHESTERFIELD, S.C. —
Reporter Greg Suskin will be in the courtroom throughout the trial. Follow him on Twitter @GSuskin for the latest. Follow along using the hashtag #ParkerTrial.
The first witness in the corruption trial of former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker was a deputy Parker hired.
Detective Wayne Jordan broke down in tears, telling the court he'd known Parker since he was a young boy playing Little League Baseball.
"You don't want to be here, do you?" the prosecutor asked him.
"In no way, shape or form," Jordan answered, wiping his eyes with a tissue.
Jordan, however, is a prosecution witness who testified that he'd been asked by Parker numerous times to give guns to people -- guns that were property of the sheriff’s office.
"I didn't ask questions. That's wasn't my job," Jordan said. "I was told to do it, and I did it."
Later, Assistant Attorney General Kinli Abee held up a sniper rifle Parker allegedly gave a man who had no police training but was scheduled to be trained as a reserve deputy. That man never completed the training, and returned the rifle after three weeks.
Abee also showed the jury a pistol given to Derick Outen, who said Parker gave it to him as payment for wiring his house. Outen testified that Parker said he couldn't pay him, but he could give him the gun to "make it better."
Parker is also accused of giving two inmates, William Skipper and Mike Lee, special freedoms including letting them drive department vehicles and live outside the jail. According to the indictment, those freedoms included eating out, shopping, vacationing with Parker and his family, wearing street clothes, and having access to alcohol and women. The indictment alleges that neither man had much supervision while being held in Chesterfield.
Abee said inmates got perks under Sheriff Parker.
"If you were sent here to Chesterfield County and you were one of Sam Parker's inmates, well, you got all the freedoms you wanted as long as you worked for them," she told the jury in her opening statement.
Outen testified that he saw inmate Mike Lee doing some of that work, at Parker's home.
"I know Mike was doing some cleaning, and that he was helping paint, and was assisting in putting down a floor," he said.
In his opening statement, defense lawyer Greg Harris said in order to find Parker corrupt, the jury would have to find him dishonest.
"Sam Parker is incapable of dishonesty," he said.
Harris said Parker was a small-town sheriff with a limited budget who was forced to improvise to equip his deputies and protect them. He said the sheriff never took a dime from county taxpayers, and he told the jury his own goal was a simple one.
"It’s my job to help you put Sam Parker back in the sheriff's job in Chesterfield County, where he ought to be," he said. "This is a man who's been shot once, stabbed twice, and beaten several times, in the line of duty."
In fact, Parker did file to run again for sheriff. His name is on the ballot for the primary in June.
As of late Tuesday, the prosecution had called 10 witnesses. The trial is expected to last into next week. Parker faces five counts of misconduct in office, embezzlement and furnishing contraband to inmates.