Tangela Louise Parker, 52, of Taylorsville, will serve an active prison sentence of 20 to 25 years following her conviction for second-degree murder during Catawba County Superior Court on Thursday, September 28, 2023.
The Honorable Bradley B. Letts, Superior Court Judge from Haywood County, sentenced Parker after she entered her guilty plea for the January 13, 2021, workplace shooting death of 51-year-old Phelifia Michelle Marlow.
The defendant will serve her period of incarceration in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
After entering judgment, Letts addressed a large contingent of Marlow’s family members and friends, saying, “Michelle did nothing wrong. It’s with a heavy heart I tell you that bad things, unspeakable things, happen to good people. I wish that were not the case. Nothing that happened was deserved by Michelle.
“There’s nothing I can say today to assuage you of your loss. I cannot fill the holes in your hearts. … Seeing you here today lets me know one thing: She knew only love and support from you for 51 years. Many folks don’t have that. She did, and that’s because of you.”
The deadly shooting occurred during the workday in front of numerous eyewitnesses at TCS Design in Hickory where both women were employed. The defendant went to the area where the victim was working and shot her in the chest with a .357 Magnum revolver. Marlow turned and tried to run, but Parker shot her in the back of the head.
Officers from Hickory Police Department and Catawba County Emergency Medical Services found Marlow lying on the floor when they arrived on scene. She later died as a result of her injuries.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Tim Gould spoke about the way Marlow died.
“The way (Parker) used (the revolver) gave this victim no chance,” Gould said. “It’s not just a murder, it’s an execution. You see the hurt she has caused this family, this community.”
Investigation by HPD officers revealed that Parker and Marlow did not get along, and there had been some incidents between the two women that led to the defendant screaming and cussing at the victim. Several witnesses said they heard Parker make disparaging and threatening comments directed toward Marlow prior to the shooting.
Because of her behavior at the workplace, Parker had been suspended from her job without pay for three days the week prior to the deadly shooting as witnesses reported to the plant manager that the defendant had instigated a confrontation with the victim, who hardly responded to the outbursts.
Defense Attorney Vicki Jayne argued that her client suffered from diminished capacity at the time of the fatal shooting and did not remember what she had done. She offered testimony from medical professionals who pointed out that the defendant’s use of Xanax to deal with panic, anxiety and depression may have contributed to an altered state of consciousness on the day of the fatal shooting.
Tangela Parker’s husband Eric, also an employee of TCS Design, was downstairs at the time of the shooting. When he and co-workers heard the gunshots, Eric Parker ran upstairs to his wife.
Following the fatal shooting, the Parkers fled the scene and were on the run for six months, using fictitious names and a stolen license plate to elude law enforcement. They finally were apprehended on fugitive warrants in Arizona in July 2021 and returned to Catawba County by extradition in August 2021. The murder weapon was found in the vehicle the Parkers were using in Arizona. The weapon was shown to the Court during Thursday’s plea.
Based on those actions, Gould argued that the defendant was well aware of what she had done.
“The State believes she knew exactly what she did. She ran,” he said. “She would have run forever. She was not coming back.”
Ten family members and/or friends of Marlow spoke on her behalf, including her daughter Makayla. They talked about the type person she was, the impact she had on them and the void in their lives since her death.
“There’s not enough time in the world for me to express who she was,” Makayla said of her mother. “January 13, 2021, was the day I lost my best friend, my rock, my certified support system. She was the human form of goodness and peace. … Her life was violently ripped from her. While I’m grateful for every second I got with her, I’m angry she was taken away. The time I spent with her was nowhere long enough.”
Jayne read a short statement written by Tangela Parker that apologized to the Marlow family for the pain she caused them and also asked for their forgiveness.
Eric Parker’s case has not been handled. He is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by Marcus Chapman of Hickory Police Department. Chief Assistant District Attorney Tim Gould and Assistant District Attorney Howard Wellons handled prosecution for the State, with aid from Legal Assistant Amy Bishoff.