Raleigh, NC - Larry Whitfield was a 20-year-old man with no prior criminal record until this week. Now, due to a string of very bad decisions that led to his scaring 79-year-old Mary Parnell to death, he stands accused of first degree murder. I’ll tell you what: that’s one hell of a bad week.
I wonder what happened in Larry’s life to make him turn to desperate acts; for desperate is the only way to categorize his behavior. Larry Whitfield and another man decided to rob a credit union in Gastonia. Apparently, they didn’t hide their intentions very well, because as they approached the bank with semiautomatic weapons, someone saw them and the bank’s staff locked the security doors! FAIL!
So now, the police were on the way, and these two are on the street with weapons. What did they do? They jumped into their get-away car, and promptly crashed it. D’oh!
Whitfield ran, and broke into Mary Parnell’s house. Mrs. Parnell was so frightened that she went into cardiac arrest and died. Now Larry Whitfield is facing a first degree murder charge.
There’s no evidence that Mr. Whitfield touched Mrs. Parnell, and he told police that he even assured her that he wasn’t there to hurt her. Further, her autopsy report revealed that she had an enlarged heart, was overweight and had advanced liver disease, kidney disease, hypertension, heart disease and was a diabetic, all of which were deemed “secondary factors.” The doctor officially listed her cause of death as “a heart attack due to stress during home invasion.”
So, what do you think? Clearly, Larry Whitfield was up to no good, and his illegal activity caused Mary Parnell to die. But he did not do anything deliberate to harm her. In fact, I’d say that he did nothing that a reasonable person would have reasonable expectation would cause harm, which I believe is the normal standard for manslaughter.
He needs to be prosecuted, but is murder one an appropriate or provable charge?? I’d be inclined to go with manslaughter. Or maybe 2nd-degree murder. I’m having a hard time buying a 1st-degree murder charge.
Larry Whitfield, whatever it is you were doing for the first 20 years of your life, you should have stuck with it. Because now an innocent grandmother of five is dead and it’s on you.
Rest in peace, Mary Parnell.