The last of three gang members accused in the stabbing and beating death of an 18-year-old man, apparently because they thought he was gay, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.
Steven T. Hollis III described himself as the victim's best friend — someone he "loved as a brother."
The victim, Steven Parrish, was stabbed and beaten to death on May 29, 2008, three days before he was due to graduate from Randallstown High School. Prosecutors said that Hollis and an accomplice lured Parrish to a wooded area behind his home on Thornhurst Court in Randallstown and killed him, leaving a red bandanna over his face in a sign of disrespect.
Parrish had turned 18 four days earlier, his mother said, and was on his way to a driver's education class when he was attacked. Michelle Parrish said her son had lined up a job interview at UPS and intended to enroll at the Catonsville campus of Baltimore County Community College.
"I just can't believe somebody's best friend can just kill them," she said, turning to Hollis in Baltimore County Circuit Court. "I will never forgive you," she said. "You have ruined my life!"
When his turn came to speak, Hollis quietly addressed Parrish's mother and said, "I just want to make my apology to Miss Michelle. I hope that one day you can forgive me."
He then made the remark that drew gasps in the courtroom: "Steven is gone, but he's still my best friend."
Hollis, who entered a guilty plea in February, and his accomplices, Timothy Rawlings Jr. and Juan L. Flythe, were members of a Bloods set known as the 92 Family Swans. After salacious messages and pictures were discovered on Parrish's cell phone, Rawlings, the gang's leader, instructed Hollis and Flythe to kill Parrish because of a fear that having a gay man in the gang would make it look weak, according to prosecutors.
But Michelle Parrish insisted after the hearing that the messages were intended for her son's girlfriend and that he was not gay.
Rawlings has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his participation in the murder, and Flythe was given a life sentence with all but 30 years suspended. A fourth man, Benedict Wureh, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to time served, about 17 months.