Mental health could be key to defense in Fresno double murder case

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno man could face the death penalty in a case where he's accused of murdering his mother and grandfather last month.

Rahmad Parke's double murder defense started in earnest on Friday.

"He enters a plea of not guilty to all charges and all allegations," public defender Deirdre Adams told the judge.

Two public defenders flanked the 25-year-old in court for his arraignment.

Prosecutors accuse Parke of stabbing his 90-year-old grandfather to death with scissors and killing his 58-year-old mother with pieces of a chair.

Because it's a double murder, it's a potential death penalty case, which is why he has two attorneys.

They tell Action News Parke has never been in the Fresno County jail before now and my search of court records confirmed he's never been charged with a crime in this county.

But the attorneys aren't saying yet what Parke's defense will be.

"At this point, it's too early to say," said public defender Scott Baly. "There's a lot of people contacted by law enforcement already in this case. We've got to get our own investigation started and our own evaluation."

Parke lived at the multi-unit southeast Fresno home where he allegedly killed Mel and Melba Abdelaziz.

Some family members have told Action News they forgive him and said he had a history of mental health issues.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says that could play a role in a couple ways - with a possible insanity plea and as a way to avoid a death sentence.

"If he's found guilty of the crime, his mental health may be a factor in what his sentence would be," Capozzi said.

Capozzi says prosecutors will need to give a motive to prove mental health wasn't really an issue.

Parke's court records did reveal an eviction case filed against him in 2018 by his grandfather, which Capozzi said could be enough of a motive.

His trip to L.A. immediately after the attacks could also be used against him.

The judge set bail at $2.06 million. Parke is due back in court next month.
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