ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Casey and Sandy Parsons, the adoptive parents of Erica Parsons who have been charged in her murder, appeared in court on Thursday for an administrative hearing.
The hearing is a continuation of a hearing held on Oct. 31 to discuss possible trial dates for the two. They could both face the death penalty if convicted.
On Thursday during the hearing, the judge scheduled the trial for Casey Parsons to begin the week of April 6, 2020. Sandy, who was brought into the courtroom after Casey, did not receive a trial start date.
In October, Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook wanted the judge to set a trial date in September, 2019, but defense attorneys argued that the September date would not give them enough time to prepare the case.
“To get these cases moving forward, I think we need to set a trial date,” Cook said.
Carolyn Parsons, Erica Parson’s birth mother, says setting a trial start date brings them “one step closer to justice.” Brittany Cline, Erica’s half-sister says she glad a trial date was set.
“Not only are they going to pay here, but when it’s their time to go, they got to face a bigger, badder judge than there is anybody here," Carolyn Parsons said on Thursday.
“I basically just want to ask them why, and that’s it," said Cline.
The case came to the attention of law enforcement and the public on July 29, 2013. On that day, following an argument with his parents, Jamie Parsons reported to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office that his adopted sister was missing from the families home on Miller Chapel Road in Rowan County.
Jamie Parsons also told them that Erica Parsons, who would have been 15 at the time, had been missing since November, 2011.
Five years later those parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, remain in the Rowan County Detention Center awaiting trial, both charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse inflicting serious injury, felony concealment of death, and felony obstruction of justice.
The case received national attention over the years and was the focus of an intense investigation that involved not only the Rowan Sheriff’s Office, but the SBI, FBI, and federal prosecutors who convicted Sandy and Casey Parsons of fraud in 2014.
A nationwide search involving several law enforcement agencies turned up no trace of the young girl.
Rewards were offered, billboards posted, and Erica's adoptive parents even appeared on the Dr. Phil Show to say that they believed Erica was still alive.
Sandy and Casey Parsons said that they had delivered Erica to live with her grandmother in Asheville. From the beginning, investigators said that they did not believe those claims.
In 2014 Sandy and Casey Parsons were convicted on federal fraud charges for continuing to accept federal adoption assistance money long after Erica had disappeared.
Jamie Parsons testified that Erica was forced to live in a closet, was given dog food to eat, had her fingers bent backward by her adoptive mother, and was beaten.
Investigators say Casey and Sandy Parsons murdered Erica Parsons in December 2011 and hid her body in a shallow grave on family property in South Carolina.
Carolyn Parsons said she thinks Erica would be happy to know that a trial date was set on Thursday.
“It is perfect that her birthday is the 24th," Parsons said. "The 25th it will be three years since we buried her. I can tel you right now she’s up in Heaven cutting flips, yelling, she’s probably singing. If she’s singing, I can tell you she’s probably singing the song I sing to her which is Concrete Angel.”