The following two news articles both appear courtesy of the 8/25/99 online edition of The Arizona Republic newspaper:
Stepfather found guilty of murder
Testimony of wounded wife comes before jury's verdict
By Mike McCloy The Arizona Republic Aug. 25, 1999
A jury convicted Glendale maintenance man Wayne Prince of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder on Tuesday for the shooting death of his teenage stepdaughter and serious wounding of the girl's mother.
Earlier in the day, Prince made a tearful bid to escape the death chamber, saying he grabbed a .22-caliber pistol to chill a quarrel, and only accidentally killed 13-year-old Cassie Parker and blew apart the jaw of his wife, Christy Parker.
Now divorced, Christy Parker testified Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court that Prince repeatedly beat her and threatened to kill her entire family when she told him to get a job and give her a divorce.
"He violated every law of humanity," Parker said, adding that her former
husband should get the death penalty when he is sentenced next month.
"Our children are our most precious things. I still have to live every day without that little girl in my life," she said.
Prince admitted that he locked the victims in their apartment during a quarrel on March 25, 1998. He ripped out a telephone cord so they could not call police and used a pillow as a silencer.
But, public defender Emmet Ronan said, Prince acted out of "raw emotion." The killing was not premeditated, so his client should be convicted of manslaughter or second-degree murder, Ronan said. County prosecutor Cleve Lynch disagreed.
"They're asking for an easy way out," Lynch told the jury. He said the killing was "premeditated, first-degree murder."
Prince denied Parker's allegations of death threats and abuse. But on the night of the slaying, Prince admitted, they were quarreling and he pushed Parker so hard that her head broke a 3-inch-diameter hole in a closet wall.
"She was screaming at me: I'm going to pay for that, and I'm going to prison," said Prince, who was convicted of burglary in 1991. "She says, 'I'm going to kill you.' I went over to the night stand and I got the gun."
Prince said he only wanted to scare Parker so she would stop quarreling.
"Once I got the gun in my hand, it felt like I was in control, finally," he said. "But it didn't work out that way."
The quarrel ended in Cassie's bedroom, with Prince holding the gun and a
pillow, and Parker standing between him and Cassie.
"I put the gun inside the pillow in my hand and punched her (Parker) really hard," Prince said. "She fell to the foot of the bed. I went to put the gun in my hand and the gun went off."
The gun was fired through the pillow, an inch away from Cassie's head, and then Parker was shot in the jaw, Lynch said.
"He didn't accidentally shoot two people."
The mostly middle-age jury of six women and eight men questioned Prince's story, as well. They asked Judge Michael McVey to clarify whether Prince
punched Parker on the right side of her face with his right hand while he held the gun and pillow in his left.
"Yes, sir, I did," Prince told the judge.
Ronan acknowledged that his client had a motive to lie, to avoid the death penalty.
Lynch produced a witness who backed up Parker's claims of being punched as early as November 1997, nine months after she married Prince. Parker said one blow branded her chest with the imprint of a small cross she wore on a necklace.
"She showed me a bruise where her necklace had been," said Nicole Heitkam, a close friend of Parker. --------------------------------------------------------------- Mother details killing of daughter
Tells court, 'He shot my daughter'
By Mike McCloy The Arizona Republic Aug. 25, 1999
Reeling from a punch to the head, Christy Parker said she looked into her daughter's face as she was shot to death by a stepfather enraged over being told to find a job.
"I heard the gunshot," Parker told a Maricopa County Superior Court jury
Monday. "She went straight back and went 'Ahhhh.' He shot my daughter!"
Wayne Prince, 28, appearing relaxed in a white, long-sleeve shirt, faced his former wife from the defense table. He is on trial for murder, attempted murder and child abuse.
"I heard the other gunshot. I was screaming, "You shot me too! You shot me too!' "
Parker recovered from her facial wound and divorced Prince. She testified for an hour about a pattern of abuse that climaxed March 25, 1998, in the death of her daughter, 13-year-old Cassie.
The couple had been married nine months when the ugliness erupted.
She, Cassie and a brother, Andrew, 10, had gone to a department store to sit for a family portrait in November 1997, when Prince pinched the back of Andrew's neck so hard that it left a red mark, Parker said.
When Parker protested later in the car, Prince punched her, she said.
"He pulled a knife out and put it to my throat and told me he was going to kill me and put my body down a mine shaft in Wickenburg," Parker said.
Disputes over discipline led Parker to ask for a divorce.
"He said he would kill me before he would divorce me," Parker said.
Unknowingly, Parker had purchased the gun that would be used in the shootings. She bought the .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol in 1996 at Prince's request, and kept it in the master bedroom of their Glendale apartment.
The gun was in a closet until two or three weeks before the killing, Parker said. Then it was moved to a nightstand in the bedroom.
At the same time, Prince's anger increased, Parker said, telling jurors that she was beaten almost daily.
"Everything I did, he said I did wrong," she testified. "There was no way to make him happy. There was no way to keep things quiet. He was upset with the kids. I was tired."
Parker and Prince worked at cleaning apartments in their complex, but he mostly smoked cigarettes and visited while she scrubbed, Parker said.
The end came when Prince brought Cassie home late at night from a youth meeting at church, where a "jamfest" was planned for the following weekend.
Prince was asked to help with security, but he told church officials he would have to check with "the boss," his wife, Parker said.
"I told him to be a real man and get a job," she testified. "He wasn't working and was living off me."
During a lull in the yelling, Parker said she told Cassie, "This is it, I'm kicking him out tonight."
Parker asked for Prince's apartment key and their bank card. When he turned to leave, she grabbed his belt loop and it ripped.
Punches flew and Parker's head was shoved into a wall, she said. As Parker ran to protect her children, Prince got the gun and locked the apartment doors, she testified.
"I told Cassie to run," Parker said. "She got almost to the door. He grabbed her under her arm and threw her across the living room."
As Prince threatened to kill his family and himself, Parker dialed 911 on a cordless telephone.
"It made the tone but there was nothing there," she said. "There was no sound."
And there was no response when Parker looked into Prince's eyes, she said.
When the punching and the shooting were over, Prince was found by police, hiding in a nearby vacant apartment.
Parker was holding her daughter, oblivious to her own bleeding from a bullet that entered behind her jaw and blew out her chin.
"I knew she was going to die because he shot her in the head. She said, 'Mama.' She said, "Love you.' It was fading away. I put my hand on her chest, over her heart. It only beat three or four times, and then it stopped."
While Prince awaits the outcome of a trial that could result in the death penalty, Parker has worked at a west-Valley shelter for battered women. The shelter, Cassie's House, was dedicated to her daughter last year.