FARMINGTON – Circuit Court Judge Kenneth W. Pratte denied District Defender Wayne Williams’ request for a continuance in Jason Parrent’s upcoming trial for murder.
Williams took over Parrent’s case in late January after Parrent’s public defender, Ben Campbell, took a job as an assistant prosecuting attorney with the St. Francois County Prosecutor’s Office. Campbell had represented Parrent for two years.
Parrent, 29, and Trevor Grice, 21, are charged in connection with the May 2, 2010, death of Donis “Ike” Clanton, a former Green Beret who had become disabled. They are each currently charged with second-degree murder, second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Parrent’s trial is set for April 23-24. On Wednesday, Williams argued he would not have adequate time to prepare for the case. Wednesday was the first time he’d had a chance to meet with Parrent, he said.
Williams has taken over Campbell’s cases, in addition to his own, and several of those are set for trial. He said his office is understaffed and he recently had to take a couple weeks off due to a death in the family.
Special Prosecuting Attorney Carl Kinsky, who was appointed to the case Feb. 16 due to a potential conflict of interest in the St. Francois County Prosecutor’s Office, opposed the continuance. He pointed out he actually entered the case after Williams and he seemed confident he’d be ready for trial.
He said they’ve had to preserve testimony of Clanton’s mother because she has several health issues. He said the murder occurred almost two years ago and he doesn’t want it to be three years before it makes it to trial.
Judge Pratte said he was not unsympathetic to Williams’ dilemma. He said he has a large caseload as well as judge.
Judge Pratte said he’s already continued these cases many times and he simply can’t continue it again.
Grice’s trial is currently scheduled March 26-27. Grice is represented by Special Public Defender Scott Swiney.
In his short time as the prosecutor, Kinsky has already asked to amend the charges. Swiney did not oppose amending the charge but Williams does.
The new charges would allow jurors to consider second-degree murder (purposely causing seriously injury that led to death) or felony murder (murder that was the result of the perpetration of a felony, either second-degree assault or exploitation of the disabled.) The charges carry the same range of punishment – 10 to 30 years or life in prison.
Clanton, 44, was found dead at his Farmington home. According to court records, an autopsy determined Clanton died of closed head trauma/blunt force trauma consisting of two blows to the left ear and at least four other blows to the head.
Parrent initially told police that he came to Clanton’s home the morning of May 6, 2010, to do yard work. He said through the door, he could see Clanton on the floor. He said he called 911 from his sister’s house and then started performing CPR.
While being questioned at the police department, he added that he, Grice and a juvenile were at Clanton’s house the night before where he said they consumed alcohol.
Parrent then confessed to hitting Clanton. He said during an argument, Clanton punched him on the left side of the face. He said it didn’t hurt, but he stood up and punched Clanton four to five times.
He said they reconciled and about 10 minutes later and Clanton passed out.
However, Grice said Clanton immediately became unconscious and never regained consciousness. Grice admitted he struck Clanton while Clanton was unconscious.
The juvenile said after Parrent assaulted Clanton, Parrent directed him to dispose of the evidence.
Grice told police he wiped down bottles, soda cans, and glasses to get rid of fingerprints. He said he and the juvenile stole a cell phone, a military coin, DVD player, silver utensils, and headphones.
Clanton was a former Green Beret who served his country for 13 years including during Operation Desert Storm. He was highly decorated and honorably discharged. He became disabled about eight years before his death, suffering brain damage after a 14-foot fall.
Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at email@example.com.