Okla. warden's wife convicted of aiding escapee

Associated Press

MANGUM, Okla. (AP) — The wife of a former Oklahoma prison warden who disappeared with a convicted murderer only to be found living with him in Texas nearly 11 years later was found guilty Wednesday of helping him escape.

Jurors visited the prison grounds where Bobbi Parker, 49, had lived with her husband, then returned to the Greer County Courthouse and determined she left willingly with Randolph Franklin Dial in 1994. Parker did not testify but after being found living with Dial in 2005 insisted he had kidnapped her and threatened to harm her two daughters if she tried to escape.

District Judge Richard Darby set sentencing for Oct. 6. Parker faces 10 years in prison but the jury recommended just one. Oklahoma judges typically give significant weight to juror recommendations.

Parker showed no reaction as the jury read the verdict shortly after 2 p.m. Her husband Randy, who still works for the Corrections Department, bowed his head as family members comforted him. Parker left the courtroom silently, wearing handcuffs, after Darby refused to set an appeal bond that would have let her go free before sentencing.

Jurors declined comment after a grueling four-month trial that lasted from the spring to the edge of autumn. More than 80 witnesses testified, and lawyers introduced nearly 800 pieces of evidence before deliberations began Monday night.

"We're just grateful for the work of the jury to sacrifice their summer," said Assistant District Attorney David Thomas, the lead prosecutor. Thomas said he believed jurors recommended a short prison term after taking into consideration the 17 years since the crime occurred.

District Attorney John Wampler, who filed the original charges in 2008, said he believes the verdict vindicates the prosecution.

"I feel that justice has been served," he said. "The months of work these guys put into the trial was justified by this verdict."

Defense attorney Garvin Isaacs said Parker did not receive a fair trial and he will appeal the verdict. He had complained before the trial that the passage of time and the deaths of several witnesses, including Dial, violated Parker's due process rights.

"I will never quit until Bobbi Parker is a free woman," Isaacs said. "We had overwhelming evidence of Bobbi Parker's innocence. ... We're going to have another trial in this case. This case will be reversed on appeal."

Dial helped Bobbi Parker run a pottery program at the Oklahoma State Reformatory, where Randy Parker was deputy warden. Prosecutors say the pair fell in love, then disappeared Aug. 30, 1994, so they could start a new life. Witnesses at her trial said the two had behaved inappropriately at the home on prison grounds she shared with her husband and their young daughters.

Police say they found the pair living happily as man and wife on a chicken ranch near Campti, Texas, on April 4, 2005.

Jurors asked for a magnifying glass during deliberations Tuesday, then asked Darby if they could travel 12 miles to Granite and tour the grounds of the reformatory where Bobbi Parker lived with her husband and their two daughters in 1994. Darby set up the visit for Wednesday and, after traveling in a five-van caravan, the panel spent 15 minutes looking at the area around the old Parker place.

Within two hours of returning to the courthouse, the jury foreman said the panel had reached a verdict.

Dial died in 2007 at age 62, but until his death he backed Bobbi Parker's version of events: that he drugged and kidnapped her, then kept her from calling police or her family by threatening to harm her family — even after he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Isaacs called Dial a manipulative sociopath who threatened his alleged mob connections would harm Parker's family if she ran away or made a plea for help.

Parker pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of assisting a prisoner to escape after being accused the day before the statute of limitations expired. Isaacs had told jurors early in the trial that Parker would testify, but said Wednesday he decided against it because he feared testifying would be traumatic for her.

Dial was serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of Broken Arrow karate instructor Kelly Dean Hogan, then pleaded guilty to the 1994 escape. He was never charged with kidnapping.

One alternate juror, who was in court when the verdict was read, said she was surprised by the verdict.

"I thought Mr. Isaacs did a wonderful job. I think he proved she was kidnapped," said Glenda Christian, who was not among those who decided the case. "Randy loves her. That's all that matters. It's such a sad case."

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