An Oklahoma jury today found a prison warden's wife guilty of helping a convicted killer escape jail 17 years ago. The jury spent less than three days deliberating whether Bobbi Parker, 49, had fallen in love with an inmate and helped him escape to run away with her or whether he had drugged and kidnapped her.
The decision came hours after the jurors had visited the home Parker used to share with her husband, Randy Parker, on the prison grounds. The jurors recommended that Parker spend one year in prison on her felony-charge conviction of assisting a prisoner to escape. She was facing a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The jurors' visit stemmed from another inmate's trial testimony that he saw Bobbi Parker get into her family van in 1994 with convicted murderer Randolph Franklin Dial and drive away from the prison while he was pulling weeds nearby. The jurors were granted their request to see the former Parker property as part of their deliberations.
The media were barred from accompanying the jury to the site, although the judge did not explain his reasoning.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys went on the visit, but were kept away from the jurors. Deliberations began on Monday after more than three months of testimony, more than 80 witnesses and more than 800 pieces of evidence.
Parker's defense attorney, Garvin Isaacs, questioned the inmate's honesty and said the photos and video of the property jurors had seen could be misleading.
"If you're there and you have firsthand experience, you don't look at a photograph that has a zoom lens," Isaacs told ABC's Oklahoma affiliate KOCO. "Anytime a zoom lens is used, as you guys know, there's a distortion of perception."
Randy Parker was working as a deputy warden at the Oklahoma State Reformatory in 1994 when his wife and Dial, an inmate serving a life sentence for murder, disappeared. The Parker's lived in a house on the prison property and prosecutors claim that Bobbi Parker met Dial in a prison pottery class that was held in the Parker's garage.
It took 11 years for investigators to track down Parker and Dial, but they were eventually found in 2005 living in a trailer on a chicken farm in Campti, Texas, under assumed names.
During the trial, Parker's attorney argued that there was no relationship between the two and that Dial kidnapped Parker. But prosecutors said they found photos, emails, handwritten letters and condoms in the trailer that indicated the two were a willing couple.
Both Parker and Dial maintained throughout questioning that he had drugged, kidnapped and held her hostage, but prosecutors aren't buying that story. They believe Parker was in love with Dial and helped him escape.
"The intoxication in this case was love. She chose freedom with Randolph Franklin Dial," assistant prosecutor Eric Yarborough said, according to the Associated Press. "Was it a good choice? Probably not. Was it a bad choice? Absolutely."
Dial died in 2007, but maintained until his death that he had kidnapped Parker and held her hostage.
Defense attorney Garvin Isaacs argued that Dial was a "sick, sociopathic egomaniac" who abducted Parker, leaving her husband alone with their two daughters.
Her defense alleged that Dial beat Parker and raped her. They also claimed that she was drugged and prohibited from drinking anything that didn't have alcohol or drugs in it.
Randy and Bobbi Parker are still married and Randy said during testimony that he still loved his wife.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.