Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dad gets death penalty for murdering 19-month-old son, son's mom (Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania)

Dad MICHAEL PARRISH was found guilty of 1st-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his young son and the boy's mother.


Pa. killer gets death penalty for murdering girlfriend, son
By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record

Published: 10:13 AM - 04/03/12
Last updated: 10:15 AM - 04/03/12

STROUDSBURG, Pa. - The family of Victoria Adams and Sidney Parrish squeezed each others' hands and shed tears Monday night as a jury voted to sentence Michael Parrish to death for fatally shooting his girlfriend and 19-month-old son in July 2009.

Sitting between his attorneys, Parrish showed no emotion to the verdict, staring straight ahead and blinking his eyes every few seconds. Though his father and a former co-worker had testified earlier on his behalf, none of Parrish's family or friends were present for the jury's penalty phase verdict.

Following testimony from several witnesses and then the prosecution's and defense's closing arguments, the jury of nine men and six women deliberated for three and a half hours before reaching its verdict, having convicted Parrish in the trial phase of first-degree murder in the deaths of Victoria Adams, 21, and baby Sidney Parrish.

Michael Parrish remained as stoic as ever, saying nothing as sheriff's deputies led him from the courtroom after the verdict.

“I wanted him to get death and I'm glad he got it, but it still doesn't bring my daughter and grandson back,” a tearful Kim Adams, mother of Victoria Adams and grandmother to Sidney, said as she left the courthouse with other family members. “Nothing can ever bring them back.”

A somber Wieslaw Niemoczynski, the county public defender who with attorney Jim Gregor has been representing Parrish, called the verdict “very sobering.”

“The jury has spoken,” Niemoczynski said. “We'll see what, if any, issues should be appealed and go from there.”

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso thanked investigators for gathering evidence and the jury for doing its duty in weighing that evidence carefully. Though Mancuso has tried other death penalty cases before, this is the first case he has prosecuted in which a jury found a defendant should be executed.

“I know it wasn't a pleasant task for the jury and they are to be commended,” Mancuso said. “This was a brutal set of facts. The jury, after weighing aggravating factors against mitigating factors, felt duty-bound to decide death should be the penalty.”

First-degree (premeditated) murder, the most serious of the levels of homicide with which Parrish was charged, is the only level warranting the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The prosecution said the aggravating factors warranting the death penalty in this case included there being two victims killed at the same time and one of them being under age 12.

Parrish has said the murders weren't premeditated, but that he killed the victims in the heat of the moment. The defense cited a number of factors, including Parrish's personality disorders resulting from a troubled childhood and the stress of being in a relationship with a woman he suspected of cheating on him and having a child with a medical condition. Sidney had undergone a heart transplant prior to being murdered.

The defense argued that Parrish had no significant prior criminal record, plus the troubled childhood and emotional disorders contributing to the murders, were mitigating factors warranting life in prison as opposed to death. The defense said, though, that these factors weren't meant to excuse Parrish's actions, since he clearly knew that those actions were wrong.

Monroe County Court Judge Margherita Patti Worthington will sentence Parrish within 90 days and a date of execution will be set. Parrish will be made aware of his appellate rights at his sentencing.
He is the second defendant in Monroe County to receive the death penalty since Manuel Sepulveda in 2002.

A jury found Sepulveda guilty of the first-degree murders of John Mendez, 19, and Ricardo Lopez Jr., 20, at the home of Sepulveda's convicted accomplice, Daniel Heleva, in Polk Township. Heleva, 45, got life in prison without parole.

The victims were shot. The crimes took an even more gruesome turn when Mendez tried to run to a neighbor's house for help and was dragged back, beaten with an ax and garroted with a bungee cord.