Sarah Parks’ family badly wants to know how she died.
With that in mind, they are supporting a plea agreement that will send her husband Silas Parks to prison for a maximum of 40 years, Latah County Prosecutor William Thompson Jr. said.
“I think at this point, in addition to wanting to be assured that an appropriate punishment is handed down, they also want to know exactly what happened,” Thompson said.
Silas Parks pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of first-degree arson in connection with the death last year of his pregnant wife, Sarah Parks, a third-grade teacher at Moscow Charter School.
Silas Parks, 26, of Kendrick, Idaho, was initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder and the arson count. But a plea deal negotiated with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office reduced the murder charges. It also stipulated that as part of a presentence investigation, Silas Parks will describe in detail how he killed Sarah Parks and then set fire to their Moscow duplex.
The results of that investigation won’t be made public, but will be discussed at sentencing, Thompson said.
Second District Judge Jeff Brudie set sentencing for June 8. Parks faces up to 15 years for each of the voluntary manslaughter convictions. As per terms of the plea agreement, those sentences will be served concurrently.
Silas Parks faces up to 25 years for the arson conviction. Brudie will decide whether Parks serves that sentence concurrently, or after he finishes the manslaughter sentence. The judge will also have full discretion on how many years of each sentence will be fixed, with no possibility of parole.
The prosecution will recommend a total sentence near the overall maximum of 40 years on all the charges, Thompson said.
The manslaughter pleas state that Silas Parks killed Sarah Parks and her unborn daughter Lilly Ann Parks on June 24, 2009, without malice and “upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion,” according to court documents. The method of death was suffocation or strangulation.
The arson plea states that Silas Parks deliberately set fire to the couple’s home at 904 Vandal Drive. The fire was presumably set to cover up the crimes, according to police reports.
Silas Parks will remain free on bond while he awaits sentencing, but will be under house arrest at his parents’ Kendrick property.
Thompson said facts uncovered in the investigation support a charge of voluntary manslaughter because Silas Parks apparently acted after a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. That is also consistent with past instances of domestic violence between the couple that form a pattern, including one in 2006 where Silas Parks shoved Sarah Parks to the ground, he said.
He was initially charged with domestic battery in that incident, but later pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace.
The couple underwent ongoing counseling, Thompson said. But very few people were really aware of their troubled relationship.
“A lot of people who were friends and family acquaintances did not know everything that was going on,” Thompson said. “The investigation indicates that Sarah wanted to keep her life private, and look at the best parts of life.”
Sarah Parks’ mother Laura Allen listened to Tuesday’s plea hearing by telephone from her home in Mexia, Ala.
She and other family members will have a right to address Silas Parks at his sentencing hearing.
Mills may be contacted at jmillslmtribune.com or (208) 883-0564.