Father of inmate slain on Hagerstown-to-Baltimore bus throws cane at defendant during murder trial

May 07, 2008

BEL AIR, Md. (AP) -- The father of a man killed, allegedly by another inmate aboard a prison bus, threw his cane at the defendant during the second day of the capital murder trial.

"What are you smiling at?" Philip Parker Sr. yelled Tuesday as a sheriff's deputy and two correctional officers quickly moved on top of the defendant to protect him. Several other officers and deputies escorted Parker, 43, out of the courtroom. No one was injured.

"He was laughing and smiling. He shouldn't be allowed to sit in here and torment us," Melissa Rodriguez, the victim's mother, tearfully told The (Baltimore) Sun as deputies watched over the elder Parker while he wept in the hall.

Sgt. Paul Cole of the Harford County Sheriff's Office said Parker would be charged with disorderly conduct and perhaps other offenses.


The outburst came when prosecutors were playing a recording of Kevin Johns' interview with investigators after the killing of Philip Parker Jr. The 25-year-old Johns is accused of strangling the younger Parker in Baltimore County as the Division of Correction bus rolled through the pre-dawn darkness, carrying 36 prisoners from Hagerstown to Baltimore.

The trial was moved to Harford because the state grants an automatic change of venue in death penalty cases.

Johns confessed six days later to strangling the 20-year-old inmate. He told prison investigators that he never expected to "get away with it" but knew that the driver was not allowed to stop no matter what happened aboard the bus.

Grisly details emerged with the playing of the audio tape of Johns' confession.

Johns told investigators that he strangled Parker with his arm -- not the waist chain to which his wrists were cuffed -- and cradled the inmate's head in his lap while trying to break his neck.

"I didn't need no waist chain. If I used my waist chain, a lot more would have been done than was done," he said on the tape, saying that if he had been able to get the thick chain around Parker's neck, he would have been able to escape his restraints altogether.

Johns is serving a 35-year-sentence for choking and hacking his uncle, Robert Purcell, to death in 2002, and a life sentence for strangling 16-year-old cellmate Armad Cloude at the Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown in 2004.

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