$18.5M Awarded In Prison Bus Slaying

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— A prison inmate was murdered on a bus ride in front of several corrections officers. A day after a jury awarded the victim’s family a multi-million dollar settlement, they speak exclusively with WJZ.

Mike Hellgren has new reaction to the verdict.

“This is never gonna be easy,” said Philip Parker Jr.’s mother, Melissa Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has been living a nightmare for more than six years when her son was strangled to death, a vicious murder on a Maryland state prison bus bound for Baltimore.

In a landmark decision, a jury awarded her, his father and her son’s estate $18.5 million from the state of Maryland, finding the corrections system was negligent in protecting Philip Parker.

“No remorse, no compassion. The words they used to describe my son…I’ll never get out of my head,” Rodriguez said.

The jury found four of the five correctional officers on board that bus were negligent. Attorneys for Parker’s family argued they did not properly restrain his killer—troubled convicted murderer Kevin Johns—and they waited to get medical care for Parker.

“I’ve become skeptical after about 40 years of doing this as to what it will mean. I hope it means that there will be better attention paid,” said lawyer Sam Shapiro.

“It’s hard to say congratulations,” said lawyer Michael Mastracci. “It’s never congratulations for Melissa and Philip.”

“You take a job, you follow the rules, you’re responsible for someone’s life, you should be there. You should do what you’re supposed to do,” said Philip Parker Sr.

It’s likely the state will appeal and because of limits against Maryland’s liability, it’s unlikely the family will see all of that money. But they say they’re not in it for that. They simply don’t want another family to go through what they did.

“It’s always been about my son, nothing else, for me. The guards had to look me in the eye and explain why they did nothing to help my son,” Rodriguez said. “As long as I have breath in my body, I will not stop fighting for my child.”

Parker’s killer committed suicide in prison two years ago. He had been convicted of murder three times.

More from Mike Hellgren
  • sheriff

    Parker was a POS convicted felon & shouldn’t have been there to begin with. His greedy ass parents will never see a penny. Ha hah aha

  • sensored

    Parker apparently did something to be on a bus with a convicted killer.

    He likely did something to provoke a convicted killer to assault him.

    Parker in his entire life wouldnt have earned 18.5 million dollars….while it’s tough to put a dollar value on his human….how is a convicted felon who would likely have drained the system for many more years be worth that much?

    People act like the 18.5 million comes from no where. It’s an assault on the tax payers and a silly amount to give for some do nothing waste of a life.

  • Rachel

    I am all about justice being served, but 18 millon? REALLY? That money will not bring him back. So therefore they will all be out spending millions for luxury that they get from their son being murdered, Sorry but that money would not make things better for me. People will still be killed and greedy people will still sue for “themselves”

  • truthhurts

    I think the victims of Parker need to sue his family… Hopefully that 18 million goes to someone who was truly innocent.

  • HA HA HA

    I did not know that robbery gives you a death sentence. Especially in a state that doesn’t give the muilti time murderer one

    • sensored

      It does when you presumbly run your mouth to someone who has been there done that before.

  • April Hough

    I hope and pray that if anyone in your family makes a bad decision and ends up dead on a prison bus you still feel so strongly about how worthless your family member is/was. I don’t think they sued for a monetary amount I think they sued for principle. I know I would. That could have been my husband, brother or father! No you can never put a price on a human life but he allegedly robbed someone(not kill them).


    I agree April, the fact is that the guards were negligent in their duties. They all should have been fired.

  • tink27

    Also though, the money being paid out will be the money we pay to taxes for working out butts off, But honestly taxes are going ot get raised no matter what. Like they said, the family probably won’t ever see all of that money anyways. I think they did it to set an example. And who’s to say no one else would do the same in a situation like this knowing the death of thier loved one could have and should have been prevented. I’ve worked for the gov’t before, I know how lazy people are who work there which is why I left.

  • TEE

    The family did exactly what they should have done, and that is seek justice for Parker’s murderer . I don’t think it had anything to do with the money just the principle of LAZINESS on the job.

  • bigbob

    The family of Parker should have been better in raising that POS criminal & then this would never have been a story. F…..k that White trash prick & his parents.

  • truthhurts

    Let me say this – I never said that he should have died for his crime (doesn’t sound like he committed murder). However, think of it this way.. He had victims – they were hurt by his crime. They probably could not sue him because I am sure he had nothing. So now, you have innocent people who are suffering for something they had no hand in creating while the family of this ‘poor’ criminal is rolling in the dough that SHOULD go to his victims – or at least part of it.
    Now on the other side – you have the state paying out $18.5 million of YOUR dollars. If it were truly about this not happening again – they can re-invest that $18.5 million back into the prison system to fix buses so that murderers can be schackled to the bus – unable to kill other prisoners. Instead the state is going to pay $18.5M to this family PLUS additional dollars to fix the buses – all on your dime ;)

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