AIKEN -- With the slam of a gavel, an unremorseful John Augustus Parkes was sentenced Monday to 40 years of imprisonment without parole for cutting his mother's throat.
Until Monday, Mr. Parkes had been behind bars at the Aiken County Detention Center, accused of killing Kelliroe Parkes, 77. He pleaded guilty but said he wasn't in the house when a companion committed the murder.
Mr. Parkes has been jailed since July 1, 1997, and will get credit for time served. As a result, he will serve 38 1/2 years instead of 40, but will not be eligible for parole.
The son immediately became a suspect when he stopped at a North Augusta bank to cash one of his mother's checks after her body had been found.
When Circuit Judge Marc Westbrook asked Mr. Parkes, now 44, to recount the gruesome details of the June 25, 1997, slaying, the unshaken Mr. Parkes asked, "Do you really want to know?"
During Mr. Parkes' brief courtroom appearance, Assistant Solicitor Lawrence Brown said Alfred Cable, an accused accomplice, and not Mr. Parkes, slashed the elderly woman's throat in an attempted robbery gone bad. The knife dug deep into Mrs. Parkes' artery, then pierced her esophagus.
Mrs. Parkes was found dead in the sun room of her Colonial Drive home by neighbors who became concerned when they didn't see her for at least two days.
On the afternoon of the slaying, a taxi driver dropped off Mr. Parkes and Mr. Cable at the intersection of Valley Drive and Richland Avenue. Then they walked to Mrs. Parkes' residence. When they arrived, they found the lock on a rear door had been changed. Somehow, they coaxed Mrs. Parkes to open the door.
Mr. Parkes told the court Monday he had walked to the back of the house to smoke a cigarette when Mr. Cable walked outside with bloodied clothes.
The prosecutor described what authorities believe happened next: When Mr. Parkes inquired about his bloody hands and shirt, Mr. Cable said, "She's finished. She wouldn't cooperate."
The duo fled in Mrs. Parkes' 1996 Nissan with her credit cards and checkbook, Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Parkes was arrested in Gastonia, N.C., on a fugitive warrant when he stopped at a pay telephone to report that the Nissan had been stolen. Police found the car at a nearby hotel.
Police found Mr. Cable's bloody palm print on Mrs. Parkes' forearm. His fingerprints also were found on the car's ashtray. He did not appear in court Monday because his attorney was ill. It wasn't known if he will also plead guilty.