Parker Chamberlin testifies about murder of his mother


In a packed courtroom filled with a very divided family, Parker Chamberlin testified about the murder that rocked Kern County. Chamberlin was convicted for the 2001 murder of his mother when he was just 15-years-old. Now, CDCR says Chamberlin’s behavior in prison has been so exceptional, that a judge should consider resentencing him to probation, which would mean he’d be released back into society. Today, Chamberlin took the stand himself to try to prove to Judge Michael Bush that he is extremely remorseful for the murder of his mother and he’s a changed man because of it. 

Original story, published Dec. 7, 2018

It was the murder that shocked Kern County and made families question how well they knew their loved ones. Now, the defendant convicted of the horrifying murder could soon be released.

Parker Chamberlin was a teenage boy who seemed to have it all. When those who knew him heard he was the suspect in a horrific murder-they couldn’t believe it.

But when they heard who the victim was, it was simply unfathomable.

Now,  the case is being reopened sooner than anticipated, and a judge will have to decide: Does Parker Chamberlin deserve another chance at freedom, or is he right where he belongs?

It was July 2001. Police arrived to the home of  40-year-old Torie Knapp to find the beloved teacher dead on the floor of her blood soaked bedroom. Knapp had been savagely murdered –stabbed 35 times.

Knapp was an unlikely target of such violence, but even more shocking was the revelation her only son, 15-year-old Parker Chamberlin was her killer. 

According to reports, Chamberlin told police he woke up angry at a friend’s house after midnight, walked several miles home to his house, grabbed a kitchen night, and stabbed his mother as she slept. 

Chamberlin was a star student and athlete at Centennial High School. Friends say he had a 4.0 GPA and was the top player on the football team with a long career ahead of him. 

No one could make sense of it. Some felt Chamberlin’s deadly actions were the result of his steroid use, but it was, and still is a debated theory.

Chamberlin was tried as an adult. He was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to 26 years to life –sent off to prison as a teen.

Fast forward to today: California penal code 1170(d) gives the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation the authority to recommend a prisoner be re-sentenced to probation if they feel the prisoner has been rehabilitated.

In a motion filed by Chamberlin’s attorney, Chief Deputy Public Defender Peter Kang, notes it’s extremely rare for CDCR to recommend anyone be re-sentenced, and Parker Chamberlin just is one of the few who meet the state’s tough criteria.

The motion lists hundreds of letters,certificates, and notes in his prison file that the defense believes proves Chamberlin deserves to be released. Among his work at Valley State Prison-CDCR records say he’s a  mentor to other inmates and volunteers for dozens of inmate programs and achieved success in many programs himself.

There’s no denying he’s thrived in prison-but the DA’s office says that was to be expected.

Deputy DA Nick Lackie’s brief response to the defense’s motion says quote “several of the people who knew the defendant best paint the picture of a highly intelligent, charismatic, and motivated manipulator. His performance in prison is hardly a surprise.”

Lackie concludes with “just as the people who spent his formative years learning about his character anticipated, he is now  attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of those who hold the keys to his freedom.”

Ultimately, a Kern County judge will hear arguments from both sides, possibly Parker Chamberlin himself. The judge will have the final say if Chamberlin is re-sentenced to probation and released back into society, or if he stays right where he is.

If he’s denied probation, Chamberlin will be eligible to go in front of a parole board in 2023. He is now 32 years old. The first hearing for this case is next week.

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