Judge denies bond for Juilliard-trained pianist who claims to be innocent in murder case

A judge denied bond for the man accused in the brutal Oct. 2021 murder of a Greer woman
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 4:31 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Zachary Hughes, a renowned concert pianist charged with murder after a Greer woman’s brutal slaying, says he is innocent.

Hughes was denied bond again in a hearing on Wednesday and remains in the Greenville County Detention Center.

Hughes was arrested in connection with the homicide of Greer veterinary technician Christina Parcell, who was stabbed to death in her home on Oct. 13. The solicitor says Hughes was captured on her doorbell camera entering the home on the night of the homicide.

Investigators have not released a motive for the crime or the connection between Hughes and Parcell.

A motion filed Tuesday on Hughes’ behalf asking for bond claims there is no evidence of “any motive Zack would have had to harm Parcell. Also missing from the evidence is any connection between Zack and either Parcell or Post leading up to this incident.”

Christina Parcell
Christina Parcell(Foothills Veterinary Hospital)

Parcell’s fiance, Bradly Post, was arrested in connection with a child pornography investigation in the aftermath of her death.

The court document says Post gave deputies “the name of the person whom he believed killed his fiance, a name that was not Zachary Hughes.”

FOX Carolina previously obtained court documents that indicate Hughes had a friendship with John Mello, the father of Parcell’s child. In an exclusive interview with FOX Carolina, Mello said, “I can’t help their perception,” when we asked his thoughts on how that looks.

The solicitor said in Wednesday’s hearing that Hughes was very involved in a custody battle between Parcell and Mello and had agreed to harass when asked.

Hughes was leaving the country on the day an arrest warrant was filed for murder in Parcell’s death, according to the motion, because he was hired to perform for an international cruise line. He learned about the warrants while waiting to board a flight in Detroit, Michigan.

But instead of attempting to flee the country, Hughes’ attorneys said he told them he would return to the Upstate to stand trial and rented a car to drive back to Greenville.

Hughes’ attorneys claim he is neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk.

They included in the court filing 52 letters of support from people who know Hughes, including faculty and classmates at The Juilliard School where he studied piano.

The solicitor says Hughes’ DNA was found under Parcell’s fingernails. The motion for bond says Hughes has retained a “DNA expert” to challenge any DNA evidence in the case.

The solicitor also says investigators are still working to extract information from Hughes’ phone and he hasn’t provided the code for it to be unlocked.

Hughes’ parents were in attendance at the bond hearing on Wednesday.

“I have never seen a tendency for violence in my son. He has many younger siblings who all look up to Zach,” said Melinda “Mindy” Hughes. “He was incredibly kind to them. There’s no way I could ever imagine Zach doing this. There’s nothing I can look back and say that was a red flag. I know my son. This is quite the opposite. He gives up zero indications he committed this crime.”

Parcell’s sister also spoke at the hearing and said he believes Hughes is both dangerous and a flight risk.

“We have a young man, physically fit, military-trained with very deft and adept hands who came into my home and slaughtered my sister on my living room floor while her daughter was a half-block away at school,” Tina Parcell said.

She said she is fighting for custody of Parcell’s daughter.

Judge Miller denied bond for Hughes. The judge said he will allow the defense to revisit should their DNA experts produce relevant evidence and phone records.

Read the full motion for bond here:

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