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Ex-fiance of missing woman hires criminal attorney

- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - The ex-fiance of a Florida mother who vanished shortly after appearing on "The People's Court" hired a criminal defense attorney on Tuesday with a tie to the Casey Anthony case and the Tiger Woods scandal.

Dale Smith hired attorney Mark NeJame a day after Orlando's police chief named Smith the primary focus of detectives' investigation into the disappearance of 33-year-old Michelle Parker.

A spokeswoman for NeJame said the attorney has no immediate comment. NeJame was the attorney for Casey Anthony's parents for a time and also represented Woods after a late 2009 car accident outside the golfer's Florida home.

Parker was last seen Nov. 17, the day the previously-taped episode aired featuring her and the 40-year-old Smith. Parker and Smith were on the show to resolve a dispute over a $5,000 engagement ring. Smith, a roofing contractor, had sued Parker for the value of the ring.

They had been together off and on since 2006 before appearing on the television show and are the parents of 3-year-old twins. Parker has an older child from another relationship.

Court records show Parker filed for a domestic violence injunction against Smith in 2009 but the order was dismissed after a hearing.

Smith has had traffic infractions and arrests on charges of misdemeanor marijuana distribution and misdemeanor possession of an opened container of alcohol in a car, according to court records. The most serious charge was for aggravated battery in 1996. He pleaded guilty and a prison sentence was withheld. Smith has lived in Florida and North Carolina, where he was at Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base.

Parker and Smith described to television Judge Marilyn Milian how their most recent reconciliation unraveled at a convention in Atlanta for science fiction and fantasy fans. Smith said he liked to dress up as a storm trooper or Captain America at these types of conventions.

They got into an argument when Smith brought up a past relationship of Parker's. During the argument Smith grabbed her, Parker told the judge, so she got a nearby police officer to escort her to her hotel room. The officer stayed at the room so Parker could pack up her belongings without being disturbed by Smith, she said.

When Smith demanded the engagement ring back, Parker said she took it off and threw it at him. But the ring slipped through a railing and landed nine floors below in the hotel atrium, she said. Smith was unable to find the ring.

"I threw it at him and he shouldn't put his hand on me and he shouldn't have put his hands on me prior," Parker told the judge, according to a transcript of the show. "It's been a hell of a rollercoaster ride, and it's poison and we're done."

The television judge said Parker was responsible for paying Smith for half of the value of the ring. But she also told them their "fatal attraction" relationship wasn't working and that they should move on to other people.

"You're like drugs to each other," Milian said. "You're addicted to each other but this is a very, very bad idea."

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