Prison inmate killed on bus

Man found dead among fellow offenders in irons

No sign of `major uproar'

Inmates went to testify at murderer's sentencing

February 03, 2005|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old prison inmate serving a three-year sentence for unarmed robbery was killed by one or more inmates on a bus trip from Hagerstown to Baltimore early yesterday, state correctional officials said.

The inmate, Phillip Eugene Parker Jr., was killed between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on a bus that contained 35 prisoners, all in handcuffs and leg irons. according to Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Division of Correction.

The Associated Press reported that Parker was among several inmates at the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore, also known as Supermax, who had been brought to Hagerstown to testify Tuesday at the sentencing of Kevin G. Johns Jr., who strangled his 16-year-old cellmate at the Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown in January 2004. At the hearing, where Johns received a life sentence, he had vowed to kill again unless he received psychiatric treatment.

Doggett said she could not disclose whether Johns was a passenger on the bus. However, other officials confirmed he was not housed at the prison in Hagerstown and that he would have to have been transported back to the Baltimore region after Tuesday's hearing.

Parker's body was discovered when the bus stopped to unload passengers at Supermax, Doggett said.

She said she could not disclose information about how Parker was killed or why his death went undiscovered until the bus stopped in Baltimore because the investigation is not complete.

"Yes, we had five correctional staff on there and, yes, those inmates were in restraints," Doggett said. "How this incident happened -- that's what we're trying to find out."

Based on information investigators have received, she said, "there was no indication of a major uproar or commotion that would have drawn attention."

During Tuesday's hearing, Johns told the judge that he was likely to kill again if he did not receive intensive psychiatric treatment. "It's not that I want to go around killing people, but if my hand is forced to, yes, I would do it again," Johns said.

Doggett said the investigation is being led by the internal affairs division of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, with assistance from state police.

Baltimore prosecutors said they were troubled to learn yesterday that Johns' second murder victim, 16-year-old Armad Cloude, had been serving his sentence with adult inmates at the Maryland Correctional Training Center.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge had recommended Cloude for the youth offender program at the Patuxent Institution at his sentencing hearing in October 2002. His mother, Lily Morton, said last night she was told he had been sent to the adult prison in Hagerstown because no beds were available at Patuxent.

Cloude was 14 when he cut off his home-monitoring ankle device and fatally shot a 17-year-old during a botched robbery. Judge John M. Glynn sentenced Cloude to 20 years in prison, suspended all but 12 and recommended him for Patuxent.

Prosecutors had joined Cloude's attorney in asking the judge to make the request, said Margaret T. Burns, spokeswoman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office.

"The prosecutor was deeply troubled and very surprised to learn that Armad was not in the program that was approved by the court," Burns said. "Every indication was that he would be placed in that program. His young age and the fact that he would be returned to the community some day made him an ideal candidate."

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Frederick C. Wright III, who sentenced Johns to life without parole for the teen's killing, rejected a defense request that Johns be sent to a program at Patuxent for inmates with mental illness.

Johns was serving 35 years for a February 2002 first-degree murder conviction in Baltimore City Circuit Court when he killed Cloude.

Assistant State's Attorney Tony N. Garcia said Johns' first murder was particularly gruesome. He said Johns tried to strangle an uncle with his belt and, after finding him still breathing, tried to cut off his head with a rusty saw and a box cutter before stuffing him into a closet and leaving him to die.

Sun staff writers Julie Bykowicz and Stephanie Desmon contributed to this article.

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