In the seven months since Benson High School student Eriana Carr, 16, was killed and her cousin shot 11 times, authorities have focused on a man who had a beef with the 21-year-old cousin.
Two developments have elevated that man, Tracy Parnell, from a “person of interest” to a man charged with first-degree murder in Carr's death, prosecutors say.
One, authorities linked a car seen at the shooting to Parnell, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said.
And two, Parnell was convicted Tuesday of terroristic threats for threatening the cousin, Nakia Johnson, two days before the shooting.
With family and friends lining the back of the courtroom, Parnell pleaded no contest to making terroristic threats Oct. 28 against Johnson. He also pleaded no contest in an unrelated case in which he drove away from police trying to pull him over.
Prosecutor Tressa Alioth said Parnell, a 40th Avenue Crip, was dating a friend of Johnson's. Parnell became upset and confronted Johnson because he believed she had invited a rival Bloods gang member into an apartment.
Alioth said Parnell pulled out a gun as he threatened Johnson — leading her to call 911. Parnell's girlfriend also told police that Parnell had pulled a gun. However, she later changed her story, prosecutors said.
Parnell's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Kelly Steenbock, said two other people in the apartment reported that Parnell did not have a gun at the time of the incident.
As a result, prosecutors dropped two gun charges, punishable by up to 50 years in prison, in return for Parnell's no-contest pleas to terroristic threats and flight to avoid arrest. Parnell faces 20 months to five years in prison on each charge when he is sentenced in August.
Prosecutors also dropped a vandalism case against Parnell in an alleged hammer attack on a girlfriend's car. Parnell had faced 20 months to five years in prison in that case, too.
He faces much more if convicted in connection with Carr's death.
Parnell is expected to appear in court today to face charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and three weapons violations.
Nakia Johnson told reporters and investigators after the Oct. 30 shooting that she and Carr had been walking to take butter to Eriana's sister, who lives nearby and needed it to cook dinner.
Johnson said she spotted a Nissan Altima in the neighborhood but didn't think much of it — only that it was the kind of car she had always wanted.
Johnson and Carr returned to Eriana's home near 35th Street and Redick Avenue about 8:15 p.m. Johnson said she saw the Nissan again, seconds before someone rolled down the window and opened fire.
Johnson's description of the car matches a car that Parnell had been seen in, Kleine said.
Johnson has said she didn't get a look at the gunman. However, she said, Parnell “was after me.”
Carr was a popular honors student, basketball player and cheerleader. The junior had been involved in several scholarship programs for advanced students.
Contact the writer: