The trial of Dante Parrish, 37, began Feb. 22 in which he is accused of raping, mutilating and murdering a 15-year-old gay boy, Jason Mattison, Jr. in East Baltimore in November 2009. Jason was openly gay and attended West Baltimore’s Vivian T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy where he was a popular student.
Mattison was not welcome in the homes of his mother or grandmother because of his sexual orientation and had to live on friends’ couches to survive. He wound up living in the home of a great aunt but it was reportedly also occupied by drug users.
Parrish had previously served nearly 10 years in prison for murder before being freed thanks to the help of the Innocence Project, whose attorneys fight post-conviction appeals. Not knowing Parrish’s criminal record, Mattison’s great aunt allowed him to move in.
When Parish allegedly attempted to rape Mattison while the boy was sleeping on the second floor, Mattison screamed. He was allegedly suffocated by Parrish, who is accused of stuffing a pillow case down Mattison’s throat and then stabbing him in the neck, face and head until he died.
Mattison’s body was found stuffed in a closet, and according to the prosecutor, Jennifer Hastings, Parrish cut power to the house and ran off with a television to make it look like a robbery. He was later apprehended.
Baltimore police did not charge Parrish with a hate crime. “Jason Mattison was raped while being murdered,” said Det. Donnie Moses, a police spokesman, in 2009. “The suspect was not targeting homosexuals in general with this act.”