Thursday, April 22, 2004

Applebee's slaying described

Police say ex-employee shot manager in face

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Family members of Mark Smith react during David Parsons' preliminary hearing in Kenton County District Court. Parsons is charged with murder in Smith's shooting death.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MEGGAN BOOKER

CRESTVIEW HILLS - The widow of slain Applebee's manager Mark Smith sobbed as a judge heard details of a confession that led to an arrest in the year-old case.

"David Parsons told me he murdered Mark Smith," said Kenton County Detective Wayne Wallace, the only person to testify during Parsons' preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon in Kenton County District Court.

"He told me he shot him in the head one time," Wallace said as he used his finger to point to his head to illustrate where the bullet entered the skull.

Family members and friends comforted Smith's widow, Stacy, as Wallace told the judge the bullet lodged in Mark Smith's neck . She is raising the couple's two sons, who were 6 and 4 at the time of the death.

Parsons, who appeared in court shackled and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, said nothing during the hearing as public defender Mary Rafizadeh questioned the detective.

"How many suspects were there in this case?" asked Rafizadeh.

"There were many," Wallace said, adding he questioned Smith's employees, neighbors and friends.

Parsons has pleaded not guilty to a single count of murder. He is being held at the Kenton County jail on no bond.

Wallace said police had recovered one bullet and one casing from a .380-caliber handgun. Detectives have been searching for the gun used in the crime since Parsons' arrest on April 13.

When asked how many times he has talked to Parsons, Wallace said maybe a dozen times. He said Parsons confessed, on tape, during the last two interviews.

An unsealed affidavit in the case says police believe Parsons shot Smith, 36, at close range in the early morning hours of April 27 because he blamed Smith for his getting transferred and eventually fired from Applebee's. A cleaning crew found Smith's body at 4:30 a.m. in the restaurant parking lot. He had been shot once in the face.

Parsons told police, according to the affidavit, that he didn't intend to kill Smith. Detectives said that during an interview the day before his arrest on the murder charge, Parsons said he "snapped due to all the stressors in his life, including his differences with Mark Smith."

After hearing the evidence, Judge Frank Trusty ruled there was enough evidence to continue to hold Parsons and ordered the case bound over to a grand jury.

A confrontation then took place between relatives of Parsons and of Mark Smith, who were wearing photo badges with his picture. Deputies quickly defused the situation when they threatened to arrest anyone who didn't follow courtroom etiquette.

It was unclear what caused the exchange of words.

Randy Compton, Mark Smith's father-in-law, who was visibly upset after the confrontation, said: "I want the judicial system to do what it does best. We have all the faith in the world in Detective Wallace, the prosecuting attorney. We loved Mark."

The Parsons family left the courthouse without talking to reporters. They couldn't be reached for comment later in the afternoon.


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