Family of murder victim wins lawsuit

LEWISTOWN – With his murder conviction upheld by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in September 2012, Charles Trimmer Jr. still had to answer to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Crystal Price, the wife of Darren Parys, the man Trimmer murdered on July 31, 2010.

Trimmer is serving a life sentence in prison for the killing of Parys.

On Tuesday, a nonjury trial before President Judge Timothy S. Searer convened to settle the financial damages portion of the lawsuit. A summary judgment on liability for Parys’ death had already been issued against Trimmer.

Trimmer was present for the trial on Tuesday and it appears his health has further deteriorated since his incarceration, as he was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair. During the course of Trimmer’s criminal trial in September 2011, there was testimony he had difficulty moving around.

The short trial on Tuesday lasted about an hour with Price’s attorney David Lutz calling a handful of witnesses including Parys’ surviving sons, Eric and Coste Paris who testified their father was active in their lives.

Price testified she and her sons had lived with Parys from 1992 to 2008, after which she and Parys split up.

Price also testified as to how much time her sons spent with their father and how much they enjoyed working on restoring classic cars with him, which was his primary source of income.

Actuary Johnathan Cramer testified he calculated that had Parys lived until he was 65 and continued making between $25,000 to $30,000 a year, he would have netted roughly an additional $309,000 worth of income.

Searer awarded Price a total of $556,750 in damages.

Trimmer was silent throughout the course of the trial and his attorney Edward Raleigh did not cross examine any of the witnesses who testified.

Criminal trial

Trimmer and Parys had a well-documented history of conflict and a dispute between the two men turned deadly when Trimmer pulled out a 12-gauge shotgun and gunned down Parys, according to documents.

Testimony during the criminal trial by ballistics expert Darren Mortoff and forensic pathologist Dr. Gordon Handte put Trimmer at a range of 9-14 yards away from Parys during the first shot, which struck the victim in the back. The second shot put Trimmer at a distance of 1-3 feet away from Parys, who was struck in the throat, the experts testified.

During the trial, Handte testified the first shot was fatal and would’ve brought Parys almost immediately to his knees, due to a serious drop in blood pressure from the gunshot wound. Handte went on to state that Parys may or may not have been alive at the time of the second shot, because there was little blood loss from the neck wound, due to the blood pressure loss from the first shot.

Then Mifflin County District Attorney Steve Snook claimed during the trial that Trimmer’s version of what happened that day was in direct conflict to the testimony of the pathologist and ballistics expert.

Trimmer testified during the trial that he was accosted by Parys as he drove near Parys’ cabin in his backhoe. Trimmer said he reached for his shotgun fired two shots from the backhoe, but could not see if he had hit Parys because he had been pepper-sprayed by Parys.

Trimmer testified the second shot was fired immediately following the first as Parys charged at him while he was sitting in the backhoe.

Snook put forth the theory at trial that Trimmer had not been as incapacitated by the pepper spray as he claimed, and that he got out of the backhoe, walked up to Parys, who was laying on his stomach, flipped him over, took aim and fired the second shot.