EDNA – A jury sentenced Amber Sorensen to 25 years in prison Thursday morning for killing her boyfriend, Jarrett Parker.
“Even though we got justice, today is no win,” said Parker’s father, Don Parker. “There is no win here. There are broken families. Amber, you did that.”
Feet tapped in distress throughout the courtroom as Sorenson’s sentence was read and Parker’s mother, Debra Taylor, wept silently in the front row, on the 14th and final day of her trial.
Sorenson was found guilty Tuesday of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury to a family member for killing Parker, who was 33 years old at the time.
She claimed she shot and killed Parker at their home on Feb. 7, 2017, out of self-defense.
Sorenson’s mother, Linda Durham, laid her head on the shoulder of her husband, Robert Durham, as their 37-year-old daughter left their sight. Both sped out of the courtroom upon the judge’s dismissal.
Tuesday and Wednesday, attorneys from both sides called witnesses to reveal the characters of Parker and Sorensen for the jury to consider during sentencing deliberation.
Because Sorensen had no prior felony convictions or arrests, jurors could have sentenced her to probation instead of prison time.
Stephen Cihal, Sorenson’s defense, urged the jury to do just that during closing arguments.
He said she was a beloved mother of three, daughter and sister, and imprisoning her would impact not only her life but all who love and depend on her.
“They will be devastated,” Sorensen’s father, Robert Durham, said about his grandchildren during his testimony on Wednesday.
Although her children, who are also cared for by Sorensen’s ex-husband and their biological father, could be cared for by her parents and brother, Durham said that wouldn’t be the same.
While looking at the judge during her victim statement, as he instructed, Parker’s mother, Debra Taylor, asked people to stop spreading falsehoods about her son.
“I ask you to please stop attacking Jarrett,” she said. “My son is dead. He was tried, convicted and executed that night. He did not choose or deserve any of this.”
As the families waited to be released from the courtroom, Taylor walked over to a family member of Sorensen and said, “I don’t want to hear anymore from you about my son,” upon which a bystander called out that Taylor was making an inappropriate threat in the courtroom.
The exchange quickly diffused when the judge returned and dismissed all parties.
Parker’s mother and stepmom, Annette Parker, both said they forgave Sorensen during emotional victim statements that followed the jury’s verdict.
“God will get us through this, and I pray that he gets you through this, too,” Parker said, addressing Sorensen.
Parker said she felt for Sorensen’s children, who will now have to communicate with their mother from behind the barriers of the criminal justice system – through visitation and phone calls.
“I don’t hate you, Amber, or at least I don’t want to. That’s not my nature,” she said. “I do feel for your children. I don’t want their mother taken away from them, but then I remember that you didn’t think about them at all that night ... you need to spend time in prison and reflect on what needs to change in you.”
While standing in a light breeze outside the courthouse, Don Parker later said he did not know whether the wounds forged by his son’s death would ever heal.
“All the families are broken, and it is going to take years, if ever, to repair that,” he said. “It is something we’re going to have to work on through trust in God, and we’re going to go do good things in Jarrett’s name.”