LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning apologized Friday to an 80-year-old man wrongfully convicted in the 1955 killing of his wife, and asked a judge to approve a $500,000 award from the state.
Bruning announced that his office would no longer fight a lawsuit filed by Darrel Parker seeking damages for the nearly 14 years he spent in prison. The award is the maximum amount allowed under a 2009 state law that entitles wrongfully convicted people to compensation from the state.
Parker filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the state after lawmakers approved the 2009 law. Parker, who now lives in Moline, Ill., broke down while speaking at a news conference.
"It can't possibly make up for all these years," he said through tears. "I'm not here to rub somebody's face in this terrible thing. I'm not bitter. I'm not built that way."
Parker was convicted in 1956 of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Nancy, who was found raped, bound and strangled in their Lincoln home. Parker spent nearly 14 years in prison.
Another man confessed to the crime while sitting on Nebraska's death row, and Parker was paroled in 1970. He received a full pardon in 1991.
Bruning said his office, which was defending the state against Parker's lawsuit, decided to "do the right thing" after reviewing the case. He said the decision was based on a review of case records, including a confession from convicted murder Wesley Peery, who was on death row for the murder of another Lincoln woman. Peery's confessions were initially protected by attorney/client privilege, but were made public by his attorneys after he died of a heart attack in 1988.
Peery had worked around the Parker's home in 1955, and was questioned during the initial murder investigation but released. Earlier this year, state officials discovered 14 witness reports of a vehicle near the murder site that matched the description of a vehicle Peery owned at the time.