2 men blame each other in deadly burglaries in Austin in 2014


Highlights

Parlin’s lawyers said an associate, Shawn Gant-Benalcazar, is responsible for the killings.

Prosecutors said jewelry belonging to the Sheltons was found with a man who said he got it from Parlin.

The two men charged with murder in a string of burglaries in 2014 are pointing fingers at each other as prosecutors try to pick apart their stories and send both to prison for life.

Timothy Parlin entered a Travis County courtroom Tuesday and denied killing three Austin residents — choir teacher Kathy Blair and elderly married couple Billie and Sidney Shelton.

A month ago, the other man charged with murder, Shawn Gant-Benalcazar, avoided a conviction when a single juror refused to find him guilty of killing Blair.

On the first day of Parlin’s trial, his lawyers told the jury Gant-Benalcazar killed all three of them and that Parlin had no knowledge of his friend’s intentions when Parlin drove him to the victims’ homes to steal jewelry and other valuables. That claim contradicts sworn statements from Gant-Benalcazar, who testified at his trial last month that Parlin killed Blair while Gant-Benalcazar was napping in his car. A mistrial was declared in Gant-Benalcazar’s case when jury deliberations stalled after 18 hours.

Gant-Benalcazar, 33, never was charged in connection to the Shelton deaths despite public comments from then-Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo that both men were responsible. He is scheduled to be retried for Blair’s murder in October.

In opening statements Tuesday, prosecutor Andrea Austin said Parlin was vengeful after a work dispute with Blair’s landlord and was “bent on getting his fair shake in life.”

Detectives investigating the killings were drawn to Parlin after discovering he had been fired for goofing off while he was supposed to be digging a ditch at Blair’s home in Northwest Austin. Details of that slaying resembled the Shelton killing that happened nine days later, leading investigators to believe the crimes were related. Police linked Parlin to the Sheltons through his wife, who performed massages on the couple at their North Central Austin home in Brentwood. Parlin also attended the same church as the Sheltons.

Additional evidence prosecutors say ties the men to the killings includes Blair’s blood found on the passenger seat of Parlin’s sister’s car when police searched it. They also say a video taken by a neighbor looking for deer on the night of Blair’s death shows someone resembling Gant-Benalcazar getting out of a car parked near Blair’s home. A bloody shoe print found in Blair’s home matches a shoe worn by Gant-Benalcazar, prosecutors say.

Gant-Benalcazar told police that he stabbed Blair in the neck at the direction of Parlin, who had threatened his family if he did not cooperate. But Gant-Benalcazar testified in his trial that the confession was forced and that he was under the impression he would be arrested no matter what he told the police.

Detectives tracked down jewelry and a shotgun they say belonged to the Sheltons. A man found with the jewelry said he got it from Parlin, who revealed the previous owner is “someone who’s not going to need it anymore,” prosecutors said Tuesday.

But Parlin’s lawyers say there is no physical evidence that he was in either of the homes.

“Shawn Gant-Benalcazar committed them on his own,” defense attorney Keith Lauerman said. “There’s no plan they can prove. This man and those hands never committed these murders.”

Prosecutors revealed gruesome details about the Shelton slayings, saying that both were struck repeatedly in the head with an unknown object and choked. Billie Shelton, 83, was stabbed several times in the face, including in her eye. Her husband, Sidney, 85, had been failing health and was supported by an oxygen tank.

Parlin, 52, faces five counts related to capital murder. He will be sentenced to life in prison if he’s convicted of any of them.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Weiser case exposed UT campus danger, brought changes
Weiser case exposed UT campus danger, brought changes

A group of University of Texas parents focused on improving campus safety say the trial of Meechaiel Criner, who was convicted Friday of killing UT freshman Haruka Weiser in 2016, revealed a disturbing fact: Criner, a teenage runaway at the time of the murder, had been using a storage room at Royal-Memorial Stadium as a living space, and no one told...
Man seriously injured in wreck at Manor Road, Airport Boulevard
Man seriously injured in wreck at Manor Road, Airport Boulevard

A man in his 30s was hospitalized with potentially life-threatening injuries following a crash Saturday afternoon at Manor Road and Airport Boulevard, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. The wreck was reported around 2:20 p.m. Further details were not yet available.
Texas Digest: Dallas police officer killed by drunken driving suspect

DALLAS Officer killed by DWI suspect The driver of an SUV that struck and killed a Dallas police officer on a motorcycle has been arrested. Senior Cpl. Earl Jamie Givens, a 32-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was killed by a drunken driving suspect Saturday while accompanying the funeral escort of another Dallas officer, authorities said...
Blanco County fire ‘demobilization’ planned as mop-up duty completed
Blanco County fire ‘demobilization’ planned as mop-up duty completed

Despite “a few flare-ups” overnight, a 680-acre wildfire that started this week in Blanco County and later spread into Llano County remains completely contained, Blanco County officials said Saturday. The wildfire, dubbed the Smith-West fire, initially was reported 100 percent contained late Friday afternoon. “Overnight, firefighting...
Historic airplane crashes at Burnet airport; 8 injured
Historic airplane crashes at Burnet airport; 8 injured

A 75-year-old airplane owned by a Dallas aviation museum but displayed in Burnet County crashed and burst into flames on the runway at Burnet Municipal Airport while attempting to take off Saturday morning. There were a number of injuries but no fatalities. The Federal Aviation Administration said 14 people were aboard and all were able to escape the...
More Stories