A gang leader who ordered a hit on a member of his own gang whom he suspected of being gay was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole.
Timothy E. Rawlings Jr., 24, a former quarterback at Parkville High School and the father of a 3-year-old boy, showed no emotion as Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert N. Dugan told him that the killing of Steven Parrish, for the sole reason that the victim showed signs of being homosexual, was "senseless, brutal, unprovoked, cold-blooded, premeditated murder."
Dugan said that Rawlings, as a leader of the so-called 92 Family Swans, affiliates of the Bloods, had "ordered this murder with the same casual attitude of someone walking into a fast-food restaurant and ordering one of the specials off the menu."
In a trial five months ago, Rawlings was found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and two hate crimes in the killing of Parrish on May 29, 2008. The life-without-parole term he received Tuesday is for the first charge, and he was given an additional life term on the conspiracy count. The two hate-crimes charges were merged into one and resulted in a 20-year sentence. All are to run concurrently.
Prosecutors said that Rawlings had demanded that two men kill Parrish after they discovered that he had exchanged salacious phone messages with another man. Rawlings believed that Parrish's apparent homosexuality would "make the gang look weak," prosecutors said.
Parrish, 18, who was about to graduate from high school, was stabbed and beaten, his head stomped and a red bandana left over his face as a sign of disrespect.
"He was brutally murdered for something that wasn't even true," Michelle Parrish, the victim's mother, said in court on Tuesday. Then, looking directly at Rawlings and in a barely controlled voice, she said, "You chose to take his life … and you deserve what you get."
When her turn came, the defendant's mother, Tereia Hawkins, said her son "is not the monster that the state's attorney portrays him to be." Hawkins, a state corrections officer, said the prosecutor "is trying to belittle my son," who she insisted had "no participation" in the death of Parrish.
Nevertheless, she turned to the victim's family and said, "I want to apologize for my son's alleged actions in this case."
When asked by the judge whether he wished to address the court Rawlings said in a whisper that he did not. Rawlings, who lived on Warren Park Drive in Pikesville, is already serving a five-year prison term for an armed robbery in Baltimore.
The two gang members who carried out the hit on Parrish, Juan L. Flythe and Steven T. Hollis, lured him into the woods behind his home on Thornhurst Court in Randallstown. After killing him, they called Rawlings to tell him the deed was done and Rawlings picked them up, according to testimony in his trial.
In a separate proceeding, Flythe, 19, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was given a life sentence, with all but 30 years suspended. Hollis, 20, also pleaded guilty to first-degree murder as his trial was about to begin in February and has yet to be sentenced.
The judge said Tuesday that Rawlings' history as a high-school quarterback showed he had talent and leadership qualities and that he "could have used his talents in a positive way." Instead, the judge said, the defendant "cold-bloodedly ordered the murder of another human being."
As a result, he concluded, "I don't believe Mr. Rawlings should draw another free breath."