Man pleads guilty in alleged gang killing

Members thought victim was gay, prosecutors say

February 23, 2010|By Nick Madigan |

When a group of gang members, affiliates of the Bloods, discovered that one of their own had sent text messages on his cell phone "that were gay in nature," a prosecutor said, they decided to kill him.

The body of Steven Parrish was found May 29, 2008, in a wooded area behind his home on Thornhurst Court in Randallstown. He had been stabbed and beaten, and a red bandana covered his face. His MP3 player, digital camera and pocket knife, items he always carried, were gone. He had turned 18 four days earlier.

One of four men accused of killing him, Steven Theophilus Hollis III, pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder as his trial was about to start in Baltimore County Circuit Court. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors withdrew their request that Hollis, 20, be sentenced to life without parole, and instead will ask for a life sentence, under which he would be eligible for release at some point if he behaves while in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

According to court documents, Hollis and three accomplices, Timothy Rawlings Jr., Benedict Wureh and Juan Flythe, were members of "92 Family Swans," an offshoot of the Bloods. They were initially charged together in Parrish's death, but in interviews with detectives both Wureh and Flythe blamed Hollis for the murder, the documents said, so Hollis asked to be tried separately.

Rawlings, who prosecutor Allan J. Webster said ordered the killing, is scheduled to go to trial May 10. Flythe pleaded guilty last fall to first-degree murder and Wureh to being an accessory after the fact, and both are awaiting sentencing.

In the statement of charges against Hollis, he and Flythe were described as being angered by the messages and a salacious photo of his anatomy that Parrish had sent to someone from his phone. They felt that their group "would not be taken for real and would appear weak to other Blood gang sets if it was revealed that they had a gang member who was gay," the document said. "As a result, they decided that Steven Parrish had to go."

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