Maurice Parks, a New York City subway conductor who fatally stabbed a bystander to death last year, thinking that the man was one of four who had just attacked him, was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder.
The sentence, handed down by Justice Carol Berkman in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, was in line with the district attorney’s recommendation and was the most lenient Mr. Parks could have received for the crime, which took place on Jan. 10, 2008. Mr. Parks, 41, is expected to be eligible for parole after about 12 years.
A conductor on the Nos. 1, 9 and 5 subway trains, Mr. Parks was walking home in Harlem when four men attacked him, according to court records. Wounded, Mr. Parks went in search of the men, prosecutors said, but instead came across Flonarza M. Byas, 28.
It later emerged that Mr. Parks had shot an assailant in self-defense in 1994, and had been rejected three times in the 1990s for a job on the police force.
Mr. Parks was indicted on murder charges last August. He was convicted of second-degree murder on May 27 after a short trial.
Criticizing Mr. Parks for not being repentant enough about the killing — which involved 15 stab wounds to Mr. Byas, with seven of those in his back — Justice Berkman suggested that only prison could curb his violent streak.
“I don’t want to understand it,” she said. “I want it to stop.”
Mr. Parks, who wore a charcoal suit and white shirt, with his dreadlocks pulled back, showed no emotion and did not speak during the proceeding, which lasted 45 minutes. But the victim’s fiancée, Stephanie Diaz, 23, urged the justice to punish Mr. Parks “severely” because he is a “ticking time bomb.”
“Maurice Parks took away part of my life when he murdered Flonarza Byas,” Ms. Diaz said in a 15-minute statement that was often interrupted by sobs. “I was forced to plan a funeral instead of a wedding.”
The victim’s mother, Dyanne Byas, who also spoke in court, said another victim was Harlem’s black community, which continues to lose residents to murder and prison. In a booming voice, Ms. Byas, who was pushed to the front of the court in a wheelchair, forgave her son’s killer and asked for forgiveness for her own feelings of hatred.
“Let’s start the healing process by relinquishing the bitterness and anger that was brought forth with the death of my child,” she said. “No one won in the courtroom today.”
By C.J. Hughes
Text courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com
Image from Lombard for News