Evidentiary hearing in Lee Parker, Jr. case adjourned, rescheduled

Circuit Court Judge Paul Stutesman sentenced Lee Parker, Jr., 22, of Three Rivers for a minimum of 17 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison on Friday, August 6, 2021 in St. Joseph County Circuit Court. A jury found Parker guilty in June 2021 for the 2020 shooting of then 17-year-old Grace Hussey. Hussey was shot in the head near River Trail Apartments in the early morning hours of April 9, 2020. (Alek Haak-Frost|Watershed Voice)

An evidentiary hearing in the case of Lee Parker, Jr., 24, of Three Rivers was adjourned Friday, June 7, and rescheduled for July 1. Parker was convicted of assault with intent to commit murder and felony firearm in 2021 in the shooting of Grace Hussey, who was shot in the head near River Trail Apartments in Three Rivers on April 9, 2020. Parker is currently serving a minimum of 17 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison.

The Michigan Court of Appeals remanded the case to St. Joseph County Circuit Court on March 18 for an evidentiary hearing and decision on whether Parker should be granted a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence.

The court was expected to hear testimony from at least two individuals Friday regarding a witness claiming Sunshine Swinehart, Parker’s girlfriend at the time of the shooting, allegedly told the witness that Swinehart, not Parker, shot Hussey in 2020. The hearing never progressed that far, as defense attorney Joel Kershaw told the court he needed time to review a disc he received from St. Joseph County Prosecutor David Marvin that contained two interviews, each a half hour or more in length.

Judge Paul Stutesman said Kershaw could review the interviews outside of the courtroom. Stutesman, Kershaw, and Marvin left the courtroom, and a short time later Three Rivers Deputy Police Chief Sam Smallcombe and Detective Steve Dibble followed. All parties returned to the courtroom an hour later, where Kershaw requested an adjournment in order to discuss the interviews with his client, and be adequately prepared for the hearing given the new information.

Stutesman granted the request, and Kershaw said he would write a letter to the Michigan Court of Appeals explaining why the adjournment was necessary. Another evidentiary hearing has been scheduled for Monday, July 1 at 9 a.m.