Convicted murderer Richard Gagnon, who is serving two life sentences in the 2005 slayings of an Horry County couple, wants his conviction and two life sentences overturned based on new evidence in the case.
More than four years after his trial, Gagnon is seeking relief of his conviction and sentences, which include life sentences on two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Diane and Charles Parker Sr., who were found dead in their S.C. 90 home on April 12, 2005.
Gagnon also was sentenced to 30 years in prison on a first-degree burglary charge. The sentences are running concurrent.
An appeal was filed based on new evidence -- the conviction of Bruce Antwain Hill based on DNA evidence found at the Parkers’ home.
Hill, 27, of Tabor City, N.C., was convicted in the slayings and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole following a trial in September 2011. Hill also was ordered to serve 30 years on a first-degree burglary charge, with those sentences running concurrently.
Gagnon, who had dated Diane Parker’s daughter, Bambi Bennett, has denied playing a role in the slayings.
Bennett also was charged in the deaths of her mother and stepfather, but prosecutors later dropped those charges.
On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Steven John ordered attorneys to have Hill returned to Horry County to be questioned in the case. Otherwise, he must appear on a video deposition.
Gagnon’s attorney, Bob Dudek with the S.C. Commission of Indigent Defense in Columbia, said he also wants to question a State Law Enforcement Division firearms expert, who testified during Gagnon’s trial.
John said he will set a date to decide Gagnon’s appeal after arrangements are made for Hill to testify in the case.
Gagnon and Bennett each testified Tuesday they did not know Hill and had never met him.
At the time of Hill’s conviction, 15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree said Hill’s conviction makes the case against Gagnon stronger because Gagnon had told his jail cellmate that another person was with him at the time of the murders and that person left blood in the Parker’s house.
A key piece of the prosecution’s case was blood found on Gagnon’s shoes, which was linked to Charles Parker Sr.
Gagnon said he got blood on his shoes after he went inside the Parkers home after police and crime scene had left and removed crime scene tape. Gagnon said he went inside the home to retrieve car keys, a cell phone and Diane Parker’s purse for Bennett. Bennett, after being questioned by police, had left her purse in a police vehicle that drove away, according to testimony.
Bennett testified that Gagnon came out of the Parkers’ house and said he had stepped in some blood, so she told him to wash it off.
Gagnon said he got the blood on his shoes when he went to close window blinds to keep Bennett from seeing the blood on the floor in the bathroom where Charlie Parker Sr. was found.
“I tried to step around it as best I could,” Gagnon said.
Gagnon testified Tuesday he was at home with Bennett and her two children when police said the Parkers were killed.
Bennett testified Tuesday that she wanted the truth about what happened to her parents. She said during Gagnon’s trial she didn’t listen to all the testimony because it was too emotional for her.
“I talked about a lot of stuff in jail because I was falsely accused and I was mad about that,” Bambi testified after she was subpoenaed to attend the hearing. “I want the truth. I want to know what happened to my mommy and daddy. I want the truth.”
During Gagnon’s trial prosecutors introduced testimony from a man who had been jailed with Gagnon, who said Gagnon confessed to the killings at J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway.
A private investigator testified Tuesday that inmate, Robert Mullins, had not been found to be questioned about his original testimony.
But Nico Toscani, who shared a cell with Mullins for about six months between 2007 and 2008, testified that Mullins said he would get evidence on people to help himself and his case.
“He knows he lied. He told me he lied,” Toscani said of Mullins’ testimony about Gagnon confessing to the killings.
The Parkers were found shot to death on the morning of April 12, 2005, inside their home off S.C. 90 near S.C. 22 in the Nixonville community. They owned and operated a business, Mirrortec, on their property and workers found the couple inside the home.
Horry County police charged Hill in 2009 after his DNA sample, which was taken when he was committed to the Tennessee Department of Corrections to serve a seven-year prison sentence, was uploaded into a national database and linked to the Parker’s deaths, according to authorities.
Hill is serving a sentence in Tennessee after he pleaded guilty to robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery in connection with a Nov. 15, 2006, incident there. His sentence is expected to be up in 2014.