Omaha man to be tried in fatal shooting of Benson High standout -
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:11 am
Omaha man to be tried in fatal shooting of Benson High standout

An Omaha man was ordered Monday to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge in the death of a 16-year-old Benson High School student.

Tracy Parnell, 22, is accused of fatally shooting Eriana Carr and critically injuring her cousin Nakia Johnson on Oct. 30.

On that warm evening, Johnson and Carr had walked a mile to deliver butter to a relative's home. Johnson said a blue Nissan Altima caught her attention – both because it is her favorite type of car and because this one had a loud muffler and was missing a front bumper.

As the cousins walked back to their home near 35th Street and Redick Avenue, the Nissan circled back again.

The driver lowered the window and opened fire – rattling off more than seven shots, Omaha police detectives testified. Carr was hit twice, once in the ankle and once in the torso. Johnson survived – despite being hit several times in the thighs and once in the stomach.

At the hospital, Johnson told detectives that she had had a disagreement with Parnell two nights before in which, she alleged, Parnell pulled a gun on her because she had brought a rival gang member into the apartment.

Police then checked investigative records and found that in March 2012, Parnell had been stopped in a 2003 blue Nissan Altima.

Detectives subsequently interviewed the mother of Parnell's child. She eventually admitted that Parnell had driven her blue Nissan Altima the night of the shootings – and hadn't returned until about 11 p.m. The shooting occurred shortly after 8 p.m.

Two days after the shooting, Parnell gave the woman cash to rent a garage and told her to park the car there. Police found it, with front-end damage, behind a padlocked door.

Police also tracked Parnell's cell phone – and found that it generally was used in the 35th and Redick area at the time of the shooting, Omaha police detective Candace Phillips testified.

Assistant Public Defender Kelly Steenbock argued that the case against her client was “entirely lacking.”

Merely linking Parnell to a car – without any witness identifying him as the gunman – doesn't cut it, Steenbock said.

“There's absolutley no evidence that Mr. Parnell is the party that fired the weapon that night,” Steenbock said.

Douglas County Judge Daryl Lowe said the testimony about the car – combined with the dispute between Parnell and Johnson and Parnell's actions in hiding the car – was enough to establish probable cause.

Contact the writer: Todd Cooper    |   402-444-1275

Todd covers courts and legal issues for The World-Herald.

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