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Jury nixes charges in camp death
By Tom Smith -

FLORENCE — Murder charges were dropped against a Florence man accused of killing the mother of his child in July.

Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said grand jurors last week voted not to indict Raymond Demetrius Gibson Jr.

Gibson, 21, Sweetwater Avenue, Florence, was charged with murder in the July 13 stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend, Savanna Brooke Parrish, 20, of Florence.

Authorities said Parrish was stabbed during a fight with Gibson at Brush Creek Campgrounds, near the Wright community just east of Waterloo.


Gibson had said his actions were in self-defense.

"I know the grand jury struggled with the decision," Connolly said. "It was fully and fairly presented to the grand jury, and we respect their decision.

"Unless something new develops, (the case) is closed."

Lauderdale County Sheriff Ronnie Willis said his office conducted the investigation, collected evidence and turned it over to the district attorney's office to be presented to the grand jury.

"That's all we can do; it's up to the grand jury," Willis said.

Connolly said no one from his office is in the grand jury room when jurors vote on the cases.

"They don't give a reason why they vote the way they do," he said. "We presented all the known facts, witnesses, law enforcement officers and the victim's mother. But this is their decision."

Authorities said Parrish was stabbed more than 10 times during the fight with Gibson.

Campground fight

The fight reportedly took place inside a camper parked at the campground.

Investigators said the fight was triggered by an altercation earlier that day involving the woman's grandfather, Kenneth Parrish, and Gibson.

They argued about money Gibson reportedly owed Parrish for a bad check, authorities said.

Sheriff's investigator Thomas McCluskey said during a November preliminary hearing there were four other people inside the camper when Brooke Parrish and Gibson began fighting.

"They said Parrish and Gibson were fighting, and she grabbed a knife and stabbed him," he said. "They said (Gibson) then pulled a knife and started stabbing her."

Gibson, who was arrested Sept. 12, was treated at the hospital.

Brooke Parrish died later at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital.

Connolly said Gibson is in prison serving a five-year sentence on an unrelated burglary conviction.

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