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Commonwealth v. Parrish

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

September 25, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
MICHAEL JOHN PARRISH, Appellant

Submitted April 18, 2013

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered on May 15, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division of Monroe County at No. CP-45-CR-0001137-2009. Trial Court Judge: Margherita Patti Worthington, President Judge.

For Michael John Parrish, APPELLANT: James P. Gregor, Esq.

For Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, APPELLEE: Elmer D. Christine Jr., Esq., Monroe County District Attorney's Office, Michael Mancuso, Esq., Amy Zapp, Esq., PA Office of Attorney General.

CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, STEVENS, JJ. MADAME JUSTICE TODD. Mr. Chief Justice Castille and Messrs. Justice Saylor, Eakin, Baer, McCaffery and Stevens join the opinion.

OPINION

Page 558

[621 Pa. 211] TODD, MADAME JUSTICE

In this direct capital appeal, Appellant Michael John Parrish appeals the two death sentences imposed upon him on May 15, 2012, following a jury trial in Monroe County. For the reasons that follow, we affirm his judgment of sentence.

The evidence of record establishes the following facts, which were largely undisputed at trial. Appellant and his girlfriend, Victoria Adams, lived together with their 19-month-old son, Sidney Parrish, in an upstairs apartment located at Route 115 and Gilbert Road in Cresco, Pennsylvania. N.T. Trial, 3/27/12, at 40. Sidney was born with a heart defect and received a heart transplant in September 2008, when he was 9 months old. N.T. Trial, 3/26/12, at 7. As a transplant recipient, Sidney was required to take anti-rejection medications, which Victoria administered to him at around 8:00 p.m. each night, before he went to bed. N.T. Trial, 3/28/12, at 99. Notably, Appellant had never given Sidney the medication and, thus, was not [621 Pa. 212] familiar with how the medication was to be administered or how much Sidney was to receive. N.T. Trial, 3/27/12, at 90.

On the morning of July 6, 2009, Victoria left Sidney with Appellant while she spent the day with her family at the home of her cousin, James Ahern. N.T. Trial, 3/28/12, at 98. As several hours passed and Victoria did not return, Appellant grew concerned that she would not be home in time to give Sidney his medication. Accordingly, Appellant began calling Victoria numerous times to inquire into her whereabouts and when she would return. Id. at 99. Victoria, who had been drinking, initially answered Appellant's phone calls, but began ignoring them as the evening progressed. N.T. Trial, 3/27/12, at 77.

That night, after Appellant continued to call her, Victoria confided in her family and friends that Appellant was controlling and abusive, and that she wanted to leave him. Id. at 90. Fearful of how Appellant would react to her decision, she asked Ahern, her brother, Keith Adams, and her friend, Christopher Ramos, to accompany her to the apartment so that she could pick up Sidney and bring him with her to Ahern's house, where she planned to stay. Id. at 76. The men agreed and drove Victoria to her home at around 10:00 p.m. that night. Id. at 84.

Page 559

Upon their arrival, Victoria exited the car and went inside the apartment. Id. at 93. Shortly thereafter, Appellant came outside, approached the men, and pointed a gun at Ahern. Id. Although Ahern was not armed, he told Appellant that he had a gun, and Appellant ran back up the stairs and inside the apartment. Id. Moments later, the men heard gunfire and saw multiple flashes through the apartment window. Id.

Concerned by what they had observed, the men approached the building and attempted to run up the steps leading to the back of Appellant's apartment. Appellant began firing shots at them through the apartment's back door, however, and the men ran back to the car and drove to a friend's house to call 911. Id. They returned to the apartment approximately 30 to 40 minutes later, kicked open the door, and went inside. Id. ...


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