Jared Parker

Jared Parker

OPSO

A Baton Rouge man admitted Thursday that he helped try to cover up the grisly murders of a pregnant woman and her parents committed by his nephew, who killed himself in the Jefferson Parish jail a little more than a month ago. 

Jared Parker, 28, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to first-degree murder in the Nov. 8, 2016, deaths of 20-year-old Sydney Hanson, her mother Samantha Hanson and her father Dwayne Hanson.

In exchange, Jefferson Parish Judge Lee Faulkner sentenced Parker to a five-year prison sentence, with credit for time he has already served since his arrest. 

Investigators have said that Jatory Evans, 29, killed the Hanson family in their home in the 4100 block of River Road in Old Jefferson. The residence was also set on fire during the rampage.

Parker was accused of taking Evans to rent a car in Baton Rouge and then lying to investigators when questioned about the case. 

Parker's attorney, Tanya Picou Faia, said her client was interviewed four times, between Nov. 8 and 11, by detectives after the murders and that, while he lied to investigators as a favor to his nephew, he didn't initially realize the severity of what his nephew had done. 

"My client had no knowledge of what his nephew had done," Faia said, adding that when Parker drove his nephew to rent the car before the killings, he thought he was just helping a family member with car trouble.

"(He) did not believe that (Evans) had committed the murders until much later in the process," Faia said. 

Both men were locked up soon after the killings, and they were awaiting trial when Evans — charged with capital murder — used a bed sheet to hang himself in his cell on Sept. 27.

Parker's guilty plea closes the book — at least legally speaking — on one of the most shocking massacres in recent Jefferson Parish history.

Evans was estranged from Sydney Hanson, his girlfriend who was seven months pregnant, when he stabbed her to death in an upstairs bedroom. He ignited the room while she was still alive, investigators have said.

He then fatally shot and stabbed Samantha Hanson and shot Dwayne Hanson twice in the head, authorities have said.

Evans maintained his innocence and offered an alibi when investigators caught up with him. But prosecutors eventually filed three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree feticide against Evans, who was accused of having a history of abusing women.

In Louisiana, first-degree murder carries the possibility of the death penalty.

For his part, Parker faced up to five years in prison if convicted of being an accessory, but because of previous convictions, he could have faced double that. As part of his plea agreement, prosecutors agreed not to seek anything beyond the five-year sentence imposed. 

A detective at one point testified that the Sheriff's Office established Evans had carried out the massacre with the help of a blue Hyundai Elantra rented in Baton Rouge. Images of the vehicle had been captured on license plate recognition cameras as it entered Jefferson Parish in the early morning of Nov. 7.

When authorities searched that car as well as another vehicle, they found blood matching that of Sydney and Samantha Hanson. Evans also had wounds on his hands that could have been caused by a weapon with a sharp edge, according to deputies. 

Evans served in Afghanistan as a sergeant with the Louisiana National Guard and practiced mixed martial arts. He had tried unsuccessfully to join the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

Sydney Hanson worked at the gift shop at the Audubon Zoo and was due to attend a baby shower on the day she was killed. Her parents worked at Laitram Machine Shop in Harahan.

The Hansons' survivors have indicated they were hopeful Evans' suicide would spare them from having to sit through a painful trial. Parker's plea deal eliminates the possibility of the Hansons' killings being recounted in detail at a trial.

After Thursday's court hearing concluded, relatives of the Hansons hugged and wept.

Parker's sister, Andrea Parker, said her brother was "still in shock." 

"I think he's been in shock since it happened," she said. 

Follow Helen Freund on Twitter, @helenfreund.

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