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Deron Parks

Other Washington State Exonerations
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In July 2010, 42-year-old Deron Parks was arrested in Vancouver, Washington on charges of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy and taking indecent liberties with another teenaged boy. Parks was also accused of giving the 15-year-old, identified as CT, liquor and the other teen, identified as TD, narcotics during a party in December 2008.

Three months later, in October 2010, Parks went to trial in Clark County Superior Court. After the jury was empaneled, the trial judge granted a request from Parks’s attorney, Suzan Clark, that the prosecution provide an offer of proof of TD’s intended testimony. Outside the presence of the jury, TD was questioned and said he did not recall making any accusation against Parks. The judge then granted Clark’s motion to dismiss the charges involving TD.

CT testified that he was at a party at the house of a friend of Parks named Tyler. He did not remember the date; only that it was December 2008. He said he arrived after 10 p.m. and Parks gave him alcohol. CT said he passed out and awoke to Parks anally raping him. He said he ran home afterward.

A friend of CT’s testified that CT spoke to her subsequently about the incident, but was reluctant to tell her about it.

Police officer Sandra Aldridge testified that CT’s mother reported the allegation to police on October 1, 2009.

Parks testified that he was at the party and that CT was there, but he did not provide CT with alcohol or sexually assault him. Parks said he left the party at about 10:30 p.m., went to a bar, and then went home afterward. He said he did not come back to Tyler’s house until the following day.

Parks told the jury that in February 2009, his apartment was burglarized while he was at work on the night shift. He said he suspected CT and CT’s brother based on a description from a neighbor who saw some youths break into the apartment.

Parks said he reported the burglary to police, but little was done. Not long after, he went to a skate park where he confronted CT and his brother, ZT, and accused them of the break-in. Parks said that in response, CT threatened to fabricate a rape claim if Parks pushed the police to make an arrest.

On October 5, 2010, the jury convicted Parks of second-degree rape and providing alcohol to a minor. He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum 8½ years before he was eligible for parole.

In 2012, the Washington Court of Appeals upheld his convictions.

Parks’s appellate attorney John Hays then filed a personal restraint petition seeking a new trial. The petition claimed that Parks’s trial attorney had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to investigate and call witnesses who would have supported Parks’s account of the evening.

At a hearing on the petition, James Hettrick testified that he arrived at the party around 8 p.m., that Parks cooked teriyaki chicken for the guests and that CT arrived around 9:30 p.m. Hettrick said that CT said that he had taken “oxy” and Vicodin prior to arrival, and that CT sat quietly to himself.

Hettrick said that at 10 p.m., Parks asked for a ride to Mojo’s, a bar in downtown Vancouver. Hettrick, Parks, and another guest, Kristopher Bay, then left and dropped Parks at the bar, and Hettrick and Bay went home. Hettrick said that when they left, CT said he planned to stay overnight at Tyler’s.

Hettrick also testified that a couple of months later, he heard CT say that if Parks reported him to police for the break-in, CT intended to accuse Parks of rape.

Bay testified that he was at the party and left around 10 or 10:30 p.m. to drop off Parks at Mojo’s. He said Hettrick was with them, and that he took Hettrick home before going to his grandmother’s home for the night.

Richard Rolph testified that he was at the skate park when Parks confronted CT and other youths over the burglary. Rolph said that CT said Parks would “pay” if he “went to the cops.”

Gary Rice, a private investigator, testified that he was appointed to assist Clark in the defense of Parks. He said that his records showed he was not asked to interview any of the witnesses.

Parks testified that he provided Clark with the name of the witnesses and told her that they would support his account of leaving the party to go to Mojo’s and the confrontation at the skate park.

Clark, who subsequently had become a Clark County judge, said her records showed that she provided the names of Hettrick and Bay to the investigator. She said she did not recall that Parks told her about Rolph. Clark said she did not remember Parks ever telling her that he left the party to go to Mojo’s. She also said she was unable to locate any witnesses. She said she remembered the case because Parks was adamant about his innocence and particularly offended at the allegation (same-sex rape), and insisted the case go to trial as soon as possible.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge summarized the testimony, but made no ruling. Instead, the summary was sent to the Washington Court of Appeals.

In June 2017, the appeals court granted the petition, vacated Parks’s convictions and ordered a new trial. The court noted that “Hettrick, Bay and Rolph were never contacted by an attorney or an investigator. No witnesses were presented to corroborate Parks’s alibi.”

The court said, “Considering the fact that there was no physical evidence in this case and that the outcome of the trial was based solely on the credibility of the witnesses—especially (CT) as he provided the only direct evidence of the rape—there is a reasonable probability that the jury’s inability to consider such exculpatory testimony from the defense affected the outcome of the trial.”

On March 27, 2018, Parks was released on parole.

A year later, in March 2019, Parks went to trial a second time. On March 13, 2019 after hearing testimony from the alibi witnesses, the jury acquitted Parks.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/19/2019
State:Washington
County:Clark
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:Misdemeanor
Reported Crime Date:2008
Convicted:2010
Exonerated:2019
Sentence:Life
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:41
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No