Dante Parrish, 37, was sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole on April 3 for the November 2009 murder of 15-year-old Jason Mattison, Jr. in Baltimore. The sentence is the most severe punishment in Maryland short of the death penalty.
Baltimore Circuit Judge John Addison Howard quoted an old Scottish prayer when handing down the sentence. “You are not a ghoul or a thing that goes bump in the night. But you are every bit as frightening because you are real.” Parrish was a convicted killer freed from prison with the help of the Innocence Project in a 1999 murder. He killed Mattison 11 months later.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Hastings argued during the trial that Mattison, who was openly gay and popular at school, was found stuffed into a closet in an upstairs bedroom of an East Baltimore house in the 2400 block of Llewelyn Avenue with a pillowcase jammed in his mouth. His throat was slashed and he had been sexually assaulted.
Hastings pointed out that Mattison was virtually homeless because he was reportedly not welcome in his mother’s home as a result of his sexual orientation. He was living “place to place to keep a roof over his head,” she told jurors. He had been living in the home of a relative at the time he was murdered.
However, his mother denied that accusation and responded at the hearing through a statement read by a relative, “My son was never homeless. I did not put him out because of his sexuality.”