MOSCOW, Idaho – Defense attorneys for a Moscow man accused in the 2009 slaying of his wife and unborn child are asking a judge to dismiss the murder charge tied to the death of the fetus.
Silas Parks, 25, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson for his alleged role in the June 24 death of Sarah Parks, 28, and the 20-week-old fetus she was carrying.
Police say Sarah Parks was strangled or suffocated before she was burned in a fire that broke out at the couple’s residence.
In a hearing Wednesday in 2nd District Court, the Lewiston Tribune reported that defense attorneys D. Ray Barker and Charles Kovis argued that charging Parks for the murder of the unborn child conflicts with his due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Idaho has a law that defines killing a fetus as murder. But the defense contended federal law allows a woman to terminate a pregnancy before viability outside the womb, typically around 24 to 28 weeks.
Because Sarah Parks had a right to terminate the pregnancy, defense attorneys claimed Silas Parks should not be charged with murder under the state law.
Judge Jeff Brudie said he would issue a ruling at a later date.
Defense attorneys also filed motions seeking to move the trial from Latah County.
They said significant pretrial publicity in the region will make it difficult to find a fair and impartial jury.
As an alternative to moving the trial, Barker urged the judge to consider picking a jury from a pool of Southern Idaho residents, then transporting the panel to north-central Idaho to decide the case.
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson disagreed, saying the county has hosted several high-profile murder cases in the past.
Silas Parks, who is free on bond, is scheduled to go on trial May 10.