By JB Clark
ABERDEEN – David Parvin will return to prison with a life sentence after a Monroe County jury on Monday convicted the former Mississippi State University professor of murdering his wife.
The jury deliberated for almost four hours after closing arguments Monday, then shortly before 5 p.m. rendered its verdict.
Circuit Court Judge Paul Funderburk sentenced Parvin to life in prison.
It was the second murder trial for Parvin, and the second time a jury found him guilty of the Oct. 15, 2007, murder at the couple’s Monroe County home. The Mississippi Supreme Court threw out his first conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that some evidence had been improperly admitted.
The last thing heard by the second Parvin jury on Monday before they were sent to deliberate over the question of whether he accidentally or intentionally shot his wife Joyce Parvin was Assistant District Attorney Paul Gault’s argument that no one who accidentally shot anyone would leave the body contorted the way Joyce Parvin was found.
“I don’t know why (David Parvin) washed his hands, but it sure wasn’t to get the blood off because he didn’t lift a finger,” Gault said. “Do you mean to tell me after accidentally killing your spouse you let her lay there twisted, contorted, upside down with her head almost touching the floor? That’s an accident?”
Parvin’s attorney, Rachel Pierce Waide, said no matter what Parvin did, the prosecution would have called his crime scene demeanor into question.
“I guarantee you that if he had been crying at the scene you would be hearing from the prosecution it was all an act,” she said. “They got him either way. You can’t judge innocence or guilt whether they’re crying or not. You also heard he didn’t touch her. That’s about the same. Don’t we all know not to move an accident victim?”
Parvin, a 76-year-old retired professor of agricultural economics at MSU, told emergency responders that day he was walking down the hallway in their home with a loaded shotgun, on his way to shoot a beaver in their backyard, when he tripped and accidentally shot his wife.
The prosecution argued that if he were going to shoot a beaver, he could have shot the beaver from his back porch, which was accessible from his bedroom where the gun was stored, instead of walking past his wife, through the front door and back around the house.
In Parvin’s statement from the previous trial, read from the witness stand, he said he avoided using the back door because it scared the beavers off before he could shoot them. Parvin’s grandson told jurors during the trial that he has seen his grandfather shoot beavers from the back porch.
The defense maintained Parvin had nothing to gain and everything to lose by his wife’s death while the prosecutors said his extramarital affairs showed his willingness to start over with another woman was motive enough.
After the verdict was read, Parvin complained to the jury and spectators the autopsy was never entered into evidence and the prosecution in no way proved murder, calling the evidence circumstantial. He said he plans to appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Circuit Court Judge Paul Funderburk assured Parvin the autopsy was available to both sides, the evidence was not simply circumstantial, and “you could not have found better lawyers to represent you.”
Parvin’s daughter Amy Henley declined, on behalf of her family, to comment on the verdict.
Parvin has been in the Monroe County Jail since his conviction was vacated and he was released from state prison. His bail was revoked by Funderburk when Parvin got into an altercation with Monroe County deputies when Parvin insisted he be allowed to go home after his transfer from prison.