SANDY SPRINGS, Ga.
A judge has sentenced a Sandy Springs man to 35 years in prison for shooting his wife eight times last year.
Michael Parson was convicted of aggravated assault, attempted murder and other charges for the April 2012 shooting. His now ex-wife, Adina Broome, is confined to a wheelchair, partially blind and barely able to speak as a result.
Prosecutors said Parson was living a double life and secretly engaged to another woman when he lured his then-wife out of her apartment on the ruse she needed to pick him up at the VA hospital in Decatur. He then shot her eight times, three in the head, and left her for dead.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee sentenced Parson to the maximum possible term of 35 years. Lee told a packed courtroom it’s a rare case where the maximum sentence allowed by the law is too lenient. She said this is one of them.
Before handing down the sentence, Lee heard from Broome’s father and best friend, and from Parson’s secret fiancé, Marine Rachel Harner.
“It seems cruel to speak of my pain when Adina cannot,” Harner told the court. "When I returned from Afghanistan, I was under the illusion I was returning to my loving fiancé, my dogs and home. Instead, I discovered every aspect of the man I loved was a lie."
Harner said she hasn’t slept one night since learning of the lies and that Parson‘s manipulation has caused her to live a guarded, reclusive life.
"I have not given up hope,” the 22-year-old said. “It may take a lot of work and a long time, but I will one day overcome the damage that Michael Parson has done."
Parson’s mother, Margaret, told the judge her son is not the monster prosecutors painted him to be, and asked for leniency for her son.
“No, my son is not perfect as I would like to portray him to be. I'm not proud of many of the choices he has made in his life,” she said through tears. “I do know it in my heart that Michael Darnell Parson, my son, is not a murderer."
Outside of the courtroom, Broome’s family expressed satisfaction with the sentence.
“He hurt a lot of people in our lives,” said her uncle, Allen Broome. “He got what he deserved.”
Broome’s father, John, who also addressed the judge Friday, said he wishes Parson could have gotten more time in prison. But, he said his family has forgiven their former son-in-law.
“I can forgive him, but I want him to do the time, the max,” he said.
Broome’s best friend, Sondra Reed, said that Broome was happy to have justice served, but saddened to come to the realization her now ex-husband tried to kill her.
“She really loved Michael,” she said. “Michael was her everything. He meant the world to her. She was a great wife, a good friend to him.”
Reed said that Broome asked her to tell Harner that she doesn’t hold anything against her.
“She was sorry she had to go through this as well,” said Reed.
It took jurors just 54 minutes to find Parson guilty on eight charges.
Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik spoke to jury foreman, Cesar Marin, about the quick decision.
“He didn’t kill her but he did take her life,” said Marin. “This was a woman that was beautiful, that was thriving, that had so much going for her, and now she’ll never be the same.”
Marin said the smoking gun was cell tower evidence that showed Parson was near or at his apartment complex at the time of the shooting, and not at the VA hospital in Decatur as he had told police.
Marin said jurors also took issue with Parson’s behavior before and after the murder and his lack of emotion during the trial itself.
“Having to think my wife is fighting for her life and to show no compassion, no empathy for that, points to a guilty person, points to person who really didn’t care what happened to this woman,” he said.