After more than a week on the run, 25-year-old homicide suspect Erick Lamar Nelson surrendered to Reno police Tuesday afternoon, the Mercury News reports. Nelson was wanted in connection with the death of Poinsettia Parks, who was found floating in a duck pond in a park on May 16. Family members of the victim have said the suspect had a history of violence with Parks. A motive for the slaying has not been publicly revealed.
Authorities were called to Newhall Park around 2:30 a.m. after someone reported seeing Park’s body. A warrant was issued for Nelson’s arrest after she was identified as the victim. After he surrendered, Concord police detectives traveled to Reno where Nelson was being held in Washoe County, awaiting extradition to California, reports KTVU. Police suspect Erick traveled from California to Nevada by way of a stolen car.
Breaking: A Concord murder suspect was found and arrested after he apparently fled to Reno. This guy was wanted… https://t.co/fdppnTk3oE
— Eve Mitchell (@EastCounty_Girl) May 25, 2016
Twenty-five-year-old Poinsettia Parks is survived by a 7-year-old daughter and was pregnant with her second child. “She always brought light to everyone,” her sister, Nicolia Stephens, said. “She was illuminating. You could meet her for five minutes, you might not remember her name, but you would remember her smile.”
Nelson is suspected of driving Parks’ black, four-door, 2003 Kia Spectra after he murdered her, though it is not the vehicle he used to travel to Nevada. Authorities found Poinsettia’s car in good condition in Stockton, California.
Nicolia told reporters that she can’t help but think of her younger sister’s last moments. “I wasn’t here to protect her while she was fighting for her life,” she said, adding that her sister’s death has been especially hard on their mother.
Stephens said she practically raised her sister and that Parks, who worked as a security guard for a Safeway, had planned to move to Las Vegas. She also confirmed that her sister was dating Nelson.
“She still had goals and I think that’s what hurts the most,” she said. “I won’t see her get a chance to achieve those goals.”
The suspect turned himself in at a church Tuesday afternoon, said Cpl. Christopher Blakely, a spokesman for the Concord Police Department. Nelson told staffers at the church that he was wanted for murder and asked them to call authorities, Blakely said. When officers arrived, they noticed Nelson had minor injuries from crashing a suspected stolen car earlier in the week, and he was taken to the hospital for treatment before being booked at Washoe County Jail in Reno, and charged with parole violation and one count of murder.
Fetal material will be taken from Parks and analyzed to determine if Nelson is the father, and whether her pregnancy was the motive for her slaying, Blakely said.
— Cristina Rendon (@CristinaKTVU) May 20, 2016
Nevada is one of at least 38 states to have fetal homicide laws, but not one of the 23 states with laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy (“any state of gestation,” “conception,” “fertilization,” or “post-fertilization”). According to the state code, “a person who willfully kills an unborn quick child, by any injury committed upon the mother of the child, commits manslaughter and shall be punished for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.”
When the suspect surrendered, he reportedly told officers that he sought refuge at a church because he was looking for a safe place to turn himself in, SFGate reports.
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