Lonise Bias, the mother who became an national anti-drug crusader after her basketball star son, Len, died of a cocaine overdose, now says that only the death penalty can curb the kind of violence that took her second son, Jay.
She quickly added that she did not mean that Jerry S. Tyler, 25, convicted as the triggerman in her son's death last Dec. 4, should have been sentenced to death.
Tyler was given the maximum life plus 20 years prison term yesterday by Prince George's County Circuit Judge G.R. Hovey Johnson. Tyler was convicted April 30 of first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the killing.
"It's a sad day," said Lonise Bias, who lives in Prince George's County. "I'm pleased justice was done. I'm sad for the three families involved."
The murder, she said, was a tragedy for her dead son, for triggerman Tyler and for Gerald W. Eiland, 20, of Washington, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison as the driver of the getaway car.
"It's all so senseless," Bias said.
She was in Baltimore to speak at a luncheon of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
"We need capital punishment," Bias told reporters after her speech. "Not necessarily for Jerry Tyler. I'm talking about prevention, now."
Her son, James Stanley "Jay" Bias 3rd, 20, was shot twice in the back in the parking lot of Prince George's Plaza in Hyattsville and died in the emergency room of Leland Memorial Hospital. His brother, a University of Maryland basketball standout and blue chip professional prospect, died there in 1986 of cocaine ingestion.
The shooting occurred minutes after Tyler accused Jay Bias of flirting with his wife, who worked in a jewelry store at the mall. During the trial, each defendant blamed the other for the shooting.