Friday, 19 July 2024

Jury convicts Deason of first-degree murder; juror, attorney, victim's daughter discuss case

LAKEPORT – On Tuesday, a Clearlake man was convicted for the second time of first-degree murder for the December 2004 shooting death of his girlfriend. {sidebar id=118}


David Garlow Deason, 69, was found guilty of shooting 48-year-old Marie Claire Parlet to death at their Lower Lake home on Dec. 6, 2004. He also was found guilty of a special allegation of using a firearm in committing the murder.


Marie Parlet's daughter, Charline, and son, Donald, were in the courtroom Tuesday for closing arguments and the jury's verdict.


“It was intense,” said Charline Parlet on Wednesday, adding that she was shocked that he received the first-degree murder verdict again.


She said she called her younger brother, James Clarkson, in Texas to give him the news. “He was very excited.”


Defense attorney Doug Rhoades said Deason didn't take the stand in the trial. “He did not want to confront the charges.”


Rhoades said that Deason felt he could defend himself against the charges based on his level of intoxication at the time of the shootings.


“Mr. Deason had no history of violence prior to this act,” said Rhoades, adding that Deason's only previous criminal record involved some driving under the influence convictions many years earlier.


Rhoades said he had been seeking a voluntary manslaughter charge, and noted that Deason would have pleaded guilty to that if it had been offered.


“How is justice served when a life sentence would be the result regardless of a plea or a conviction?” Rhoades asked.


He added, “I thought it was a waste of resources to put him through this, to put the family through this, when the net result would have been the same.”


Alexandria Firth, 26, sat on Deason's second jury, which began Jan. 6.


She characterized the jury's deliberations as “pretty quick,” estimating that they only took about an hour and a half on Tuesday.


“The only real sticking point was deciding whether or not he premeditated,” Firth said.


She said the jurors went point by point through the jury instructions to look more closely at what constituted first-degree murder, which was their ultimate conclusion.


Jury discounts alcohol as a factor


Deason had been convicted by a jury in February 2006 of first degree murder and personal use of a firearm in an earlier trial for Marie Parlet's killing. Judge Richard Martin subsequently sentenced Deason to a mandatory 50-years-to-life sentence in prison.


However, in December 2007 the First Appellate Court threw out the conviction, saying that the court should have allowed information about Deason's level of intoxication to be admitted.


The District Attorney's Office stated that, in the first trial, the prosecution successfully argued in a pre-trial motion that, since no evidence of the defendant's drinking pattern prior to the shooting was going to be presented by the defense, the defendant's blood alcohol level should be excluded from evidence.


During that hearing, the prosecution contended that since Deason had access to “10 to 15 large 1.75 liter bottles of hard liquor” alcohol for at least 20 minutes, and possibly as long as one hour, after the shots were fired, any drinking Deason did after he fired the shots was irrelevant to his mental state at the time the shots were fired, and the blood alcohol level was misleading.


Judge Martin denied the request of then-defense attorney J. David Markham to present the blood alcohol level evidence. Court records said Markham also had asked to have a toxicologist give testimony on the subject.


“We decided the alcohol wasn't really a factor,” said Firth. “It was clear that he intended to kill her.”


During the trial, Deputy District Attorney John Langan presented evidence by forensic pathologist Dr. Kelly Arthur that Parlet had been shot twice with a .38-caliber pistol.


The first shot struck Parlet in the back and severed her aorta, according to Langan's case. After that first shot, Langan alleged that Parlet raised her arm up in a defensive posture, and then the second shot struck, piercing her left breast and perforating her spleen, with the bullet grazing the underside of her left forearm.


The precise times of the two gunshots was unable to be determined, according to the District Attorney's Office. Deason was taken into custody at 8:01 p.m. the night of the shooting.


The District Attorney's Office alleged that, upon being arrested, Deason stated, “It took you long enough to get here, deputy,” and added, “Yes, I'm the one that did it.”


Deason also told deputies that Parlet had been down for 45 minutes to an hour.


At 9:36 p.m. – two hours after the 911 call was made by a next-door neighbor – a sample of Deason's blood was taken, with his blood alcohol content found to be 0.27. After the blood sample was taken, Deason stated, “I know what I did. I had a reason.”


Firth said the focus for the jury was Deason's actions. “He had to pull the hammer back and pull the trigger, and he had time to think about.”


Seeking closure again


Charline Parlet said she had just started to get closure over her mother's death when Deason's conviction was overturned late in 2007.


“My mom was killed twice to me,” she said, describing her mother as her best friend.


On Jan. 14, while giving testimony in Deason's trial, Charline Parlet had broken down on the stand as she recounted her mother coming to pick her up from a Santa Rosa treatment center on Dec. 6, 2004, the day she died.


Charline Parlet said Deason and her mother had been together for a few years, but she only saw him at their home a few times. The rest of the time she said she saw him at the bar where her mother worked, saying he usually was drunk.


“I do feel for the man,” she said.


Parlet described her mother as a hardworking person who was a member of the PTA and coached baseball. “She was an ultimate person.”


She said her mother always told her to never depend on another person, and “never let a man bring you down, never let a man hurt you.”


That made it all the more shocking that Marie Parlet should die the way she did, her daughter said. “She was just starting to live her life, too.”


Now, with Deason's second conviction, Charline Parlet said she's got to try to get closure all over again, which is a challenge for her and her 10-year-old daughter, who misses her grandma.


Judge Arthur Mann will sentence Deason on Feb. 27.


The District Attorney's Office said Deason faces mandatory sentences of 25 years to life for the first degree murder conviction, plus an additional and consecutive sentence of 25 years to life for the special allegation of personal discharge of the firearm, for a total aggregate sentence of 50 years to life.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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