WHITLEY COUNTY — A Corbin man who was scheduled to stand trial in Whitley County Circuit Court has reached a plea deal with the Commonwealth.
Paul Parsons pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and one count of first-degree burglary Tuesday morning. Parsons was originally scheduled to have his jury trial begin Tuesday morning, but with the weekend’s negotiations now in play, Parsons entered a guilty plea instead.
Commonwealth's Attorney Jackie Steele said that he and Michael Brophy, Parsons' attorney, had been in contact since the end of last week.
“He contacted me regarding a possible resolution, we had been in contact over the weekend,” said Steele. “He contacted me and indicated what his client would be willing to do. I made some phone calls and we were able to do that.”
As a result of his plea deal, Parsons was sentenced to 20 years for each murder count and 15 years for the count of first-degree burglary. Parsons will serve his term concurrently for a total of 20 years.
“Obviously Mr. Parsons is an older individual, so with a 20-year sentence he’s going to be in his mid 60s I believe by the time he is released. I believe it also takes care of the safety of the community,” said Steele.
Steele says that given all of the possible defenses, evidence that could be used during the trial, and the possibility of Parsons being sentenced to less time, he believes the result of the case are in the best interest of everyone involved.
“Obviously some people aren’t happy with it, but they understand why,” he said. “It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best one that I’m aware of.”
Parsons was arrested June 7, 2017, after a 911 call was received by Kentucky State Police Post 11 concerning a shooting at a Fred Nash Lane residence in Corbin. Upon arrival at the scene, troopers found two men, identified as Denver Nicely, 47, of Corbin, and Joshua C. Wernicke, 28, of Keavy, shot to death inside the home.
Parsons had originally been arrested for alcohol intoxication in a public place by officers with the Corbin Police Department, but was later pinpointed as a suspect in the shooting and charged with two counts of murder and first-degree burglary. He was indicted on the charges in July 2017.
Parsons’ trial had been slowed due to lacking evidentiary items that were necessary for the case to move forward still being in the possession of the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab, where they had been undergoing further investigation. Much of Parsons’ court appearances in 2018 revolved around timeline updates concerning that evidence. There were also several jury trial dates set during the lifetime of the case. Most of the continuances were due to evidence that had yet to be returned.
Parsons is scheduled to appear for his formal sentencing on Feb. 3 at 11 a.m.