Capital murder trial begins in elderly couple, choir teacher deaths

Crime

The capital murder trial for a man accused in the deaths of a choir teacher and an elderly couple began Tuesday.

Timothy Parlin faces one capital murder charge for the death of Kathy Blair, who was killed in her northwest Austin home on Dec. 6, 2014. He also faces a second capital murder charge in the deaths of Sidney and Billie Shelton, who were killed Dec. 15, 2014 in their north Austin home. Both cases reportedly began as burglaries.

In all, Parlin faces five counts of capital murder connected to the killings. Prosecutors read the charges aloud Tuesday morning to the jury. 

During opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors said Parlin conspired to commit burglaries and murders and that Parlin knew all three victims.

As someone who worked odd jobs, Parlin was hired to complete work at Blair’s house in May 2014 after being hired by her landlord, who was ultimately unhappy with the work Parlin performed.

The prosecution said Parlin was connected to Sidney and Billie Shelton in two ways, because he attended the same church as them — the same church Parlin’s brother was a deacon — and through Parlin’s wife. She gave massages to Billie Shelton inside the couple’s home. 

The prosecution outlined the circumstances of the violent crime against the elderly couple and mentioned that at one point during the attack, Billie Shelton was stabbed in her eye. 

The first witness called to the stand was Joseph Hargis, Kathy Blair’s son. Hargis returned home on Dec. 7 to find his mother’s dead body on the floor of her bedroom next to her bed. 

“I remember just involuntarily screaming,” Hargis testified. 

The jury also heard from a paramedic Tuesday who responded to the scene after Hargis called 911, Blair’s landlord, Parlin’s sister who loaned him her green 1999 Toyota Camry, as well as a neighbor who lived near Blair and captured night vision video of a vehicle and person walking in the direction of Blair’s home the night she was killed, among other witnesses.

The defense argues there’s no evidence connecting their client to the violent crimes. 

“This man and those hands never participated in any murders,” explained Keith Lauerman, Parlin’s defense attorney. “Mr. Parlin never set foot in either one of these homes despite the many, many witnesses that are going to talk about that. But, we already know he wasn’t inside those homes. So it boils down to that fact of, what did he know and when did he know it, if at all?” 

The defense argued during opening statements Tuesday that Shawn Gant-Benalcazar acted on his own. 

Shawn Gant-Benalcazar is also connected to those two cases although he was only charged with Blair’s murder. His trial in April ended in a mistrial, and he will be retried for Blair’s murder at a later date.

Testimony is expected to continue in Parlin’s trial at 9 a.m. Wednesday. 

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