Christopher Parker’s Competency ‘an Issue’; Defense Given Another Delay

September 18, 2018

Christopher Parker, accused of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for two shootings in 2015, stands and prepares to leave the courtroom Monday after a status hearing for his case at the Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins.

Christopher Parker’s mental competency was in question Monday when the Loveland man, accused of two of six 2015 Northern Colorado shootings , appeared in court.

Parker’s defense attorney requested another two months to build a defense in the 6-month-old case. Eighth Judicial District Judge Susan Blanco denied the request, allowing only one month before a scheduled status conference regarding Parker, 35, who is accused of first-degree murder in the death of William Connole and attempted first-degree murder.

Blanco scheduled Parker’s next appearance for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 17 in her courtroom at the Larimer County Justice Center.

Parker’s defense attorney, Eric Vanatta, said his client’s mental competency remained in question and was “an issue,” though Blanco said that issue should be figured out in a case this old.

Vanatta said he has consulted professionals but added that Parker was “in the mix” about whether or not he felt the need for a competency evaluation. He also said a massive amount of discovery evidence weighed the case down, accounting for the delay in proceedings.

“We’re still sifting through lots of information,” Vanatta said. “I don’t want to give the impression that we’re just spinning our wheels.”

When Blanco asked how much discovery evidence accompanied the case, First Assistant District Attorney Mitch Murray, prosecuting in the case, said “a terabyte, perhaps two.”

Murray suggested a month before the next status conference “see if we (the courts) can push the (competency) issue.”

Blanco said the case was “an anomaly,” referring to the lengthy investigation by the Northern Colorado Shooting Task Force that led to Parker’s arrest. Noting that she was not privy to the large amount of evidence, Blanco agreed to the additional time, but added that Vanatta would need to have word on whether or not Parker would need a competency evaluation.

″(These court appearances) are not just to see your faces and set a new date,” Blanco told both Vanatta and Murray. “I want this to be meaningful.”

Since Parker’s first appearance before Blanco on March 20, Blanco has granted three requests for 60-day allowances , all requested by Vanatta.

Parker remained silent during the appearance, seated beside Vanatta in his jail uniform and handcuffs. His mother and stepfather attended the hearing.

As of Monday morning, the affidavit for Parker’s March 13 arrest remained sealed.

The Northern Colorado Shooting Task Force and the Larimer County District Attorney’s office have accused Parker of the drive-by shooting and killing of William Connole as he stood on a Loveland street corner the night of June 3, 2015. Earlier that same night, investigators believe, Parker shot at another man riding a motorcycle.

Those two shootings were part of a longstanding investigation of six Northern Colorado shootings that occurred in 2015. Authorities have stated that no current evidence links Parker to the four other shootings.

Hans Peter: 970-635-3630, hpeter@reporter-herald.com

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