COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A teen accused in the murder of his cousin made his first court appearance this morning. 17-year-old Zephaniah Parkman appeared in Recorder’s Court on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, after turning himself in on Saturday for allegedly stabbing his cousin Cortez Averette on April 17. Averette later died at the hospital from his wounds.
In court, Columbus Police Department Detective Sherman Hayes said the altercation between the two cousins occurred when Parkman entered the home of their shared grandmother, where Averette and another juvenile were. According to police, Parkman was not welcome due to a history of alleged stealing and bullying of the family.
Police said Parkman immediately went to the bathroom and Averette waited in the hall to confront Parkman when he exited the bathroom. Police stated after interviews with the grandmother and juvenile witness, they gathered Averette felt a need to protect the home.
According to police the confrontation went from verbal to physical, eventually ending with the two separating. This is when police say Parkman went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife from the butchers block, stabbed Averette, dropped the knife in the living room, and left fleeing out the backdoor of the home.
Despite police testimony, Defense Attorney Michael Eddings, who is representing Parkman, said there are a lot of missing details that were not mentioned in Recorder’s Court Tuesday morning and still investigating that needs to be done.
“My client was approached by his cousin. He was attacked and he was approached by him and he was the aggressor. And we believe that the facts will show that the victim was the actual aggressor in this case,” said Eddings. “There’s more facts that have not come out in this particular court session. We anticipate that those facts will come out. There was a weapon involved and my client was in fear of his life and he defended himself. What happened was an act of self defense.”
However, District Attorney Mark Jones said he believes there isn’t a basis for a claim of self defense.
“Obviously we don’t want people stabbing people, especially after a fight or whatever. If you have time to reflect on life and humanity you can’t go stab someone in self defense. So that would be the state’s position,” said Jones. “But the family’s pretty upset. You know it’s dividing the family this incident. I guess different camps are forming so we don’t like that. It’s a loss for the whole family. I met with the victim’s wife this morning, met with I believe the grandmother and they’re pretty upset. So ya know, they don’t want a bond, so we’re going to be tracking that to make sure so we fight, make sure there’s no bond giving on the case.”
Judge Julius Hunter ruled the case would go to Superior Court due to probable cause.