Two more people have been charged in connection with a Lexington homicide after victim’s body was set on fire in a barn, according to court records.
Martae Laron Shanks and Autumn Owens, both residents in the building where 38-year-old Lazarus Parker was allegedly shot and killed, have been charged with arson, abusing a corpse and criminal mischief, according to an indictment from a Fayette County grand jury.
The grand jury alleged that Shanks and Owens either intentionally started the fire or tried to help with the fire by purchasing gasoline in Fayette County and then taking it to Bourbon County to burn Parker’s body.
Shanks and Owens were both arrested in Scott County and then transferred to the Lexington-Fayette County Detention Center last week, according to jail records.
Cecil T. Russell, a co-defendant with Shanks and Owens in the case, was previously charged with murder. Russell was charged with killing Parker after a “cooperating witness” told investigators she heard Russell and Parker get into an argument before multiple gunshots rang out and someone screamed, according to an arrest warrant.
The cooperating witness, who was at a building in the 700 block of Dakota Street, told investigators she walked out into the hallway and saw Parker dead on the floor, according to court records.
The cooperating witness wasn’t named by investigators who wrote the warrant. She allegedly went to a Thornton’s gas station, filled up a gas jug and took it back to the 700 block of Dakota Street, according to court records.
Investigators alleged in the warrant that Parker’s body was in a Nissan Altima that Russell drove out to Bourbon County and parked in a driveway. Shanks and the cooperating witness allegedly followed Russell in a Chevrolet Camaro. The cooperating witness said she heard a “woosh” noise after Russell parked the Altima and got out. He got into the Camaro and the three went back to Lexington.
Firefighters found Parker’s body inside the vehicle while trying to put out the fire in the 500 block of Hutchison Road on Feb. 9, according to police.
Russell has never admitted to killing Parker, and one of his attorneys blamed the others suspects. During a March court hearing, attorney Daniel Whitley blamed the other two suspects and asked why they hadn’t yet been charged.
State police Detective Jeff Gaby said in March that investigators were waiting to meet with a prosecutor regarding others’ involvement.
Whitley also said the other people involved in Parker’s death and the burning of his corpse were arrested March 3 after police executed a search warrant at the residence where Parker was killed and found guns and drugs. Court records show Owens and Shanks were both at the Dakota Street residence and were charged on March 3 with drug trafficking.
Shanks was also charged with possessing a gun as a convicted felon, according to court records. In the case of Parker’s death, Shanks was also charged with being a persistent felony offender.
Neither Shanks nor Owens have been charged with causing Parker’s death, and no one else has been charged in the case, according to court records.
All three suspects were in the Lexington jail as of Monday, according to jail records. Owens was being held on a $10,000 bond. Shanks was being held on a $20,000 bond. Russell was being held on a $317,500 bond after the court lowered his initial $1 million bond in March.
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