Evidence of violent threats through text messaging led to dismissal of charges against a Chattanooga man accused of soliciting murder on Facebook.
On Thursday, an attorney for Carl Parks Jr. brought to court pages of violent text messages in which the alleged murder target had threatened to have Parks, his mother and cousins killed in retaliation for their break-up and a dispute over a money loan.
Prosecutor Lila Statom then dropped a charge of solicitation of murder charge against Parks, 20.
After the hearing, Parks' attorney, Gerald Webb, applauded Statom and Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Christie Mahn Sell's for reviewing the evidence before sending the case to the grand jury.
"That's what happens when you have a good prosecutor," said Webb, himself a former prosecutor. "She didn't just want to prosecute the case, she wanted justice."
Tarea Simpson reported to police on Feb. 13 that her ex-boyfriend, Parks, had made threats against her on Facebook, asking if someone would kill her for $200. Multiple people replied that they might be interested.
Simpson told police that Parks had also threatened her in text messages but she'd deleted those messages.
Parks saved the texts he'd received from Simpson.
"Thank God Carl Parks kept his text messages," Webb said. "This is probably the only thing that saved him today."
Webb showed the Times Free Press some of the messages he presented for his client:
"You're either going to jail or die, I would prefer that you die," Simpson wrote.
"When I kill them, get ready for you to die, I swear to God," Simpson wrote.
Webb acknowledged that some of the back-and-forth was likely bluffing.
"Facebook is a place where every man is 6 foot 5, 215 pounds and handsome and where every woman is Halle Berry," he said. "It's what happens when you have people who are venting, who are angry and they're not doing it by phone now."
No charges have been filed against Simpson, who was not in court Thursday.
"This is it; they go their separate ways, leave each other alone," Webb said. "If they ever decide to get back with each other, they deserve what they get."
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...