By Derik Vanderford firstname.lastname@example.org
May 6, 2014
UNION — After pleading guilty to double homicide, Jeremy and Christine Moody were each sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison, and following the hearing, the couple said they had no regrets.
Jeremy Moody, 31, and Christine Moody, 36, each pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime and first-degree burglary in court Tuesday morning.
Around 8 p.m. July 22, officers responded to an address on Furman Fendley Highway in Union to check on the well-being of the residents. What they found were the bodies of Charles “Butch” Parker, 59, and Gretchen Parker, 51, who had been shot and stabbed to death.
In court on Tuesday, Solicitor Kevin Brackett explained that video surveillance footage from outside the house showed a man and woman getting out of a PT Cruiser, and the man pulled what appeared to be a gun. The couple pretended to have car trouble and asked Charles Parker for help. When the Parkers came out to help, the couple — later identified as the Moodys — led them back inside at gunpoint. The footage then showed dogs running from the house, and the Moodys later fled from the scene in the PT Cruiser. Brackett pointed out that there were signs outside the house which read, “Smile, you’re on camera.” When Brackett said that, Jeremy Moody smiled and shook his head.
Jeremy Moody admitted to murdering the Parkers because Charles Parker was a registered sex offender. In the initial interview, Christine Moody said she did not participate, but in a later interview, she admitted to stabbing both victims.
Bullets found during the autopsy were from a .380 caliber handgun, which was found during a search of the Moodys’ residence and determined to be the weapon used in the murder.
Three of the Parkers’ family members spoke during Tuesday morning’s hearing, requesting that the judge give the Moodys life sentences. Brenda Franklin — sister of Charles Parker — said if the Moodys get out, they will kill again, and she wouldn’t wish for anyone else to go through the horror she and her family have gone through.
Brackett described the Moodys’ attitudes as cavalier, with casual disregard for the lives of the Parkers.
“This seems to be something they’re proud of,” Brackett said, pointing out that the entire murder was planned in advance.
“If there was ever a case where what they did called for life sentences, this was the case.”
Public defender Harry Dest represented Jeremy Moody, and Dest said he and the Moody family hope all parties affected by the incident will heal and find peace. Dest said Jeremy Moody’s tattoos and views on society were irrelevant to this case. Dest said Moody has a mental illness — a combination of Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia — which manifested at age 17. Dest said Moody had struggled with a tragic and dark family secret involving sexual abuse from a grandfather who abused Moody and “everyone he loves and respects.” Dest said that was not meant to be an excuse for what he did, but that it caused Moody to have a “heightened sensitivity” in regard to sex offenders and those who have been abused.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Harold Morgan said he saw Moody for the first time in October, and his medical records date back to 2001, when he was diagnosed with depression with psychotic features. He said Moody had been through a cycle of going to clinics and being prescribed medication. Morgan said a manifestation of Moody’s illness was his belief that God wanted him to avenge sex offenders.
“He was led by the illusion that he was doing what God wanted him to do,” Morgan said, adding that there was no question of Moody knowing right from wrong and that he was very clear.
Dest read letters from people with whom Moody had attended church and from Moody’s mother, asking for the shortest possible sentence, which was 30 years in prison.
Jeremy Moody spoke in court, making statements that were far different from the ones he made after the hearing.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t regret the incident that happened,” Jeremy said during the hearing. “On my medication, this never would have happened.”
Attorney Derek Chiarenza represented Christine Moody in court. He described her relationship with Jeremy as “the perfect storm,” since Christine had also been sexually abused since age 2. Chiarenza said when those perpetrators stopped abusing Christine, she was raped by a 28-year-old pedophile who served time in California. Chiarenza said the rapist continued to harass and abuse Christine after he served his time. The attorney also discussed Christine suffering abuse from her mother and first husband. He said she suffers from PTSD and other mental health issues including an inability to feel empathy for others and a need to assert control of society at large. Chiarenza also pointed out Christine is a cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy.
“There’s more to Christine than what she’s been charged with,” Chiarenza said. “Things don’t happen in a vacuum. I don’t know where any of us would be had we suffered as Christine did.”
Christine Moody spoke in court Tuesday. First, she read from Psalms 69: 1-20. She said she was truly sorry she broke the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” and she believed God has forgiven Jeremy and her. She turned to Jeremy and said, “I carry your heart in my heart,” and she asked Judge Lee Alford to give the two of them a light at the end of the tunnel.
Judge Lee Alford said sentencing was not easy.
“Justice is what we’re talking about, not punishment that is necessary,” Alford said, reminding those in court that the death penalty could have been sought in this case.
Alford said the victims were helpless and brutally murdered.
“In every case like that, I’ve imposed life sentences, and this case is certainly no exception,” Alford said.
Alford said he saw Jeremy and Christine smile at each other throughout the hearing.
“I believe if these two were to get out of jail, I would be concerned they would kill more innocent people,” Alford said.
Alford sentenced both Jeremy and Christine Moody each to two consecutive life sentences for their murder charges. They were also sentenced to one life sentence for burglary and five years for possession of a weapon during a violent crime, which will be concurrent. There was no sentence for their kidnapping charges since they were convicted of the murders.
As Jeremy Moody exited the courtroom, he turned and shouted, “See you perverts later! That’s what child molesters get!”
When Jeremy Moody exited the Union County Courthouse for transport to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, he said he was not sorry and that he thought the sentence was unfair.
“Child molesters do not deserve to live,” Moody said. “They got exactly what they deserved. If I had it to do over again, I’d kill more.”
When Christine Moody exited the Union County Courthouse, she said she had no regrets.
“Killing that pedophile was the best day of my life,” she said.
Christine was asked about the victims’ families.
“May they die also,” she said.
Solicitor Kevin Brackett said he thought the sentence was right on target.
“I think justice was served,” Brackett said, addressing the notion that medication would have kept Moody from committing the crime.
“He was supposedly on medication and being treated today, and you saw how he behaved out here.”
Sheriff David Taylor agreed.
“Their true colors came out once they stepped outside the courtroom,” Taylor said. “I think the medication they got today (referring to their sentences) was the best medication they could get.”