An appeals court has affirmed the life sentence of a Henderson County woman convicted of beating and then drowning her 4-year-old daughter near Athens four years ago.
Stacie Marie Parsons, 29, was found guilty of capital murder for the death of young Victoria Wyatt in a trial held in November 2016. Parsons was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In Parsons' appeal, her attorney raised five issues challenging the trial court’s denial of her motion for continuance, the constitutionality of her sentence and the admissibility of certain evidence. The Twelfth Court of Appeals, on July 31, affirmed the conviction and sentence in Henderson County's 173rd District Court.
The appeal alleged that Parsons has an intellectual disability, and that her Constitutional rights were violated because that information was not allowed during her trial. Parsons claimed this disability, along with emotional problems and childhood background of abuse and neglect, rendered her incapable of forming “actual intent.”
In response, the appeals court justices ruled based on the plethora of evidence, “regardless of any possible mental issues, appellant intentionally killed Victoria.”
Evidence referenced in the opinion include repeated confessions by Parsons, who went to the Athens Police Department immediately after the murder and told several police officers and a Henderson County Sheriff's Office investigator that, “she was a hundred percent guilty.”
Parsons confessed to first attempting to suffocate the child with a pillow, and when that failed, beating her young daughter with a rock. That failed as well, and court documents say that Parsons then held her 4-year-old underwater until there were “no more bubbles.”
Investigators believe Parsons killed her daughter after a disagreement with the child's father, Gary Wyatt, according to an analysis within the appeals court opinion.
"... he was going to leave Appellant, and Appellant did not want to raise Victoria alone. Appellant decided that if Wyatt 'wants to be alone' she would 'make him be alone.' "
Parsons is serving a life sentence without parole in the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville.
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