Attorney General Jon Bruning publicly apologized Friday to Darrel Parker on behalf of the state of Nebraska for his 1956 wrongful conviction for the murder of his wife Nancy.
Bruning filed an offer of judgment in the Lancaster County District Court requesting the maximum amount of $500,000 plus $1,700 in statutory costs to be awarded to Mr. Parker under Nebraska’s 2009 Wrongful Conviction Act.
“Today, we are righting the wrong done to Darrel Parker more than 50 years ago,” said Bruning. “Under coercive circumstances, he confessed to a crime he did not commit. Although he recanted the next day and has maintained his innocence since, he was wrongfully convicted in 1956 of the first-degree murder of his wife and spent nearly 14 years in prison. We hope this acknowledgement of his innocence will provide some measure of closure for Mr. Parker and his loved ones.”
Bruning noted the state’s decision was informed by the careful review of available records, including a confession to the crime from convicted murderer Wesley Peery. While serving on death row for the murder of Marianne Mitzner of Lincoln, Peery confessed to killing other victims, including Nancy Parker. His confessions, initially protected by attorney/client privilege, were made public by his attorneys after he died of a heart attack in 1988.
Peery had done work around the Parker’s home in 1955. During the initial investigation, he was questioned by law enforcement and released. In law enforcement records discovered earlier this year, 14 witness reports identified a vehicle matching the description of one owned by Peery near the area at the time of the murder. Nancy Parker was murdered in the same method as Peery’s other victims, raped, bound and strangled.
Darrel Parker, now 80, was paroled in 1970 and the State of Nebraska Pardons Board voted unanimously to give him a full pardon in 1991.