Sam Parker will have his first appearance before Walker County Magistrate Court Judge William Jerry Day sometime today, officials said.
The former LaFayette police sergeant is charged with the murder of his wife, Theresa Parker, who disappeared on March 21. The two were in the middle of a divorce when the Walker County 911 dispatcher disappeared.
Officials with the magistrate’s office said authorities have gone to get Mr. Parker from the Floyd County Jail in Rome, Ga., but they are not sure what time he will be back for the hearing.
Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said a magistrate judge cannot set bond in a murder case, so the first appearance hearing will be brief.
“They will say, ‘This is what you’ve been charged with,’” Mr. Wilson said.
Paperwork will then be sent to the Superior Court, Mr. Wilson said.
Mr. Parker will need to retain a lawyer, who would file a motion for a bond hearing, Sheriff Wilson said.
“I have not been told that (a lawyer) has been retained,” Mr. Wilson said.
Mr. Parker’s sister, who often acts as a spokeswoman for her brother, said she had no comment this afternoon.
See Wednesday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press for complete coverage.
A Walker County grand jury Tuesday morning indicted Sam Parker on four charges, including murder.
He was also indicted for making false statements, computer invasion of privacy, and violation of oath by a public officer. Parker is a former LaFayette police sergeant.
Parker then went before Walker County Magistrate Judge Jerry Day early Tuesday afternoon for a first court appearance in which he formally heard the charges against him.
He now must file for a bond hearing in Walker County Superior Court.
Walker County court administrator Keith Bates says that nothing now is going to happen, in the Sam Parker case, until Superior Court orders are filed.
“I have talked in detail with (Walker County Superior Court) Judge (Bo) Wood about (the trial), and it is all going to depend on how court orders are handled. It is going to be a re-actionary thing,” Bates said Tuesday. “There is not really a timeframe involved for this. It takes as long as it takes.”
According to Bates, if Parker asks for a bond, then it is up to the special prosecutor to react to his request.
The trial is scheduled to occur in Walker County, but the judge for the case is unknown at this time.
“We’ve got four judges. It’s a one-in-four chance it could be any of the judges,” Bates said. “Right now, it is just open to any judge who happens to be available at that time.”
According to Bates, even though this is a high-profile case, a possible bond hearing and the trial only occurs based on when the legal paperwork is filed. Paperwork has not been field for either.
“Until court orders are filed, nothing happens,” Bates said.
At this time, there is no publicly known attorney for Sam Parker.
According to Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, when someone is charged with a capital felony, such as the Sam Parker case, the bond has to be set by the Superior Court judge.
“In this case, the bond has to be set by a Superior Court judge. There’s many offenses where a magistrate judge can set bond, but there is also a group of charges that has to go to Superior Court,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, murder is a charge that must be set by a Superior Court judge.
“Typically, in a case such as this, once a lawyer is appointed or retained, that attorney for the defendant will file a motion for a bond hearing with the court,” Wilson said. “At that point, the district attorney would represent the state and argue or agree to bond and the defense would petition the court to set a bond.
“And that’s the way that it would work in this particular case here — an attorney would file a motion for a bond hearing in Superior Court and at that point both sides would put up evidence for or against bond being set. At that point, the court would have the authority to deny bond or they could set a bond and allow the defendant to try to make that bond,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, a defendant can make bond in one of three ways in Georgia: put up cash; have an approved bonding company find his bond; or use a property bond. An individual can leverage their property as collateral to bail out a defendant.