Trial opens in Walla Walla shooting case

Arguments raise claims about a drug enterprise and questions about who the ‘true shooter’ is.

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WALLA WALLA — A man who was shot and left for dead in an Eastgate alley in April identified his assailant to a jury Tuesday.

Blake D. Nelson testified it was the defendant, Timothy T. Parlor, who shot him as Parlor’s first-degree assault trial began in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

But the defense maintains Nelson is lying because he’s afraid of retaliation from the real shooter and a drug-dealing enterprise to which the shooter belongs.

Parlor’s attorney, Richard Wernette, told the seven-man, five-woman panel that Shawn A. Crump actually pulled the trigger and has “skated” with a “sweetheart” deal from the prosecution, landing him in prison for about a year after pleading guilty to a reduced charge.

The conflicting theories of the case unfolded in opening statements and testimony following jury selection in Parlor’s trial, which might last through the week.

Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle said in his opening statement that Parlor, Nelson and Crump were at a gathering at Lucas Hancock’s residence on Figueroa Street the night of April 12.

About 3 a.m., Parlor asked Nelson for a ride home, but Crump wanted Nelson to take him somewhere first.

The three, with Nelson driving his car, arrived in an alley behind the 1700 block of Portland Avenue where Crump and Parlor got out, and Parlor “took a .22-caliber pistol and he shot Blake Nelson,” Nagle said.

Crump, 21, and Parlor ran to a nearby residence where Parlor allegedly made self-incriminating statements.

Meanwhile Nelson — who suffered three wounds, including a life-threatening one to his chest — staggered into Aziz Chevron, 1916 Isaacs Ave. He was taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center where he was hospitalized for several days. He has since recovered.

The defense has quite a different theory of the assault.

Wernette told the jury in his opening statement that Parlor, 19, moved with his family to Walla Walla only 13 days before, was “a complete stranger to this town” and had just happened to meet Hancock.

Wernette maintained that Parlor had no motive to hurt Nelson, but Crump — “the true shooter in this case” — did. Wernette called Crump a liar, substance abuser and violent man who was a member of a “criminal association” called “The Regulators.”

They believed Blake Nelson was a police informant and somehow had already “snitched” on their illegal drug enterprise, according to Wernette.

“Blake Nelson is literally scared for his life of Shawn Crump and his cronies,” Wernette said.

Later, when Nelson, 27, took the witness stand under direct questioning by Nagle, he acknowledged having a problem with illegal drugs, including using “a lot of opiates, pain killers, heroin” at various times, and methamphetamine the night in question.

Nelson testified he drove to the alley at Crump’s direction, but said he was shot by Parlor.

Why?

“I ask myself that every day. I don’t even know him,” Nelson replied.

Under cross-examination by Wernette, Nelson reiterated having had no problems with Parlor, conceded he had bought drugs from Crump in the past, and acknowledged he was concerned that some people at Hancock’s residence might have thought he was a police snitch.

“Yeah, just how they were acting. They weren’t really talking to me, like they had something set up like they were going to do something,” he said.

Nelson also confirmed it was Crump — not Parlor — who gave directions to the alley and told Nelson where to stop.

Wernette asked Nelson if it occurred to him that Crump set him up. “He may have set me up, but he didn’t pull the trigger,” Nelson said.

He also admitted not being forthcoming to police early on in the investigation about who shot him because it crossed his mind he “wanted revenge.”

In addition, Nelson conceded he probably was shot because one or more of “The Regulators” thought he was a police snitch.

“But it’s funny. I’m not a snitch. I got shot for no damn reason.”

Crump, who is expected to testify at Parlor’s trial, pleaded guilty in July to lying to authorities by at first telling them he wasn’t at the scene of the shooting. He’s serving a 13-month prison term.

If Parlor is convicted as charged, including a firearm enhancement, he faces about 13-15 years behind bars.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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