Hager conviction upheld by Mississippi Court of Appeals

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, May 22, 2008

The conviction for a man who held a handicapped man in a trailer during Hurricane Katrina was upheld by the Mississippi Court of Appeals in Jackson .

The charge stemmed from the personal account of a man who was locked in a mobile home without air conditioning, proper bathroom facilities and a way out during the storm in 2005.

The trail held in April of last year in the Pearl River County Circuit Court found Richard Hager guilty of kidnapping James Parker and holding him against his will. Hager was sentenced to 20 years in jail, with 10 of those years suspended.

Tuesday the Mississippi Court of Appeals upheld the sentence handed down in 2007.

Pearl River County Circuit Court proceedings revealed that Parker had initially entered into a verbal agreement with Hager and Hager’s girlfriend, Bonnie Mefford, for care in exchange for money. Parker was described to be blind and disabled in the court proceedings. That relationship became stressed as time passed, Parker said in his testimony.

When Hurricane Katrina approached the Mississippi Gulf Coast Hager and Mefford left Parker in the mobile home with no way to escape. Boards with nails sticking up, lumber and a rocking chair were all placed in the hallway to keep Parker inside the home. The windows and the front door also had locking mechanisms installed due to two previous attempts by Parker to escape. Only a bucket was provided to Parker for restroom facilities.

After the storm passed Parker broke out a window and used a sheet tied to his bed to climb out of the mobile home, where he was found the next day by neighbors.