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YOUNGSTOWN — Robert B. Parker Sr., 41, was sentenced to 63 months in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and a specification of having previously been convicted of a gun specification.
Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentenced Parker to nine months in prison on the felon-in-possession offense and 4 1/2 years on a specification that Parker had previously been convicted of a gun specification.
A Youngstown police report states that Parker was one of three people who was hit by gunfire June 26 at an annual block party on Augusta Street on the East Side.
When police arrived to 632 Augusta St. for the 3: 33 p.m. call, they spoke with a city man, 69, who had been shot in the forearm. He said a man walked up to where the victim was and shot him in the forearm. The suspect got out of a white car, the victim said, adding that he did not know the shooter. His injury was not life threatening, but the gunshot wound damaged his bone, police said.
A city man, 54, also suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder when a man shot him after getting out of a white car and waving around a revolver and an old-looking large, military type pistol, police said. He did not suffer a life-threatening injury.
The suspect “exited the car and walked up yelling at a girl that was at the picnic,” the victim said. He “was shooting into the crowd of women and children,” the report states.
Police also learned that Parker had been shot and had been taken from the scene in a private vehicle. He was shot in the thigh and went to St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital. He was later transferred to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.
Police recovered a shell casing and a burgundy leather holster near where the older man was shot, south of the Augusta Market, near the picnic.
Officers spoke with Parker at the Boardman hospital, and he said he felt a pain in his leg and called someone to pick him up and take him to the hospital in a silver car.
Police did not release a report on the shootings until The Vindicator requested one on Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Parker saw his child’s mother the night before the shootings at a bar with her new boyfriend. Parker then threatened the woman by text message. The next day, he drove to the block party, where he knew the woman and man would be, prosecutors said.
Parker, who was armed, got out of the car and argued with the woman. Authorities are not sure who fired first, but the new boyfriend, a second person and Parker suffered gunshot wounds.
Parker’s earlier gun specification followed the Jan. 19, 2005, shooting death of Zymond T. Bellard, 17, of Eastway Drive. Parker was 24 at the time. Police said Parker killed Bellard in an apartment in the 900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Bellard’s 20-year-old girlfriend, Danetta Dent, told police she was hanging out with Bellard and a woman friend called Chi Chi at the apartment and they were smoking marijuana. Two men who reportedly knew Chi Chi arrived, hung out for a while then left. One returned and shot Bellard, who reportedly returned fire, according to Vindicator files.
A person in the apartment told police that when the shooting occurred, she had been lying down in the bedroom watching TV. She heard two gunshots and then screaming. She also said she didn’t know the victim and suspects. The next day, Parker was charged with the murder. Bellard’s mother told police Parker was Chi Chi’s boyfriend.
Parker was sentenced to eight years in prison on the voluntary manslaughter and gun specification. He also got an additional year in prison for a gun specification and felonious assault conviction in another 2005 case.
Parker did not say anything to the judge before sentencing Wednesday, but his attorney, Mark Lavelle, said he thinks the law that resulted in Parker getting 4 1/2 years in prison for having been convicted of a second gun specification is flawed.
“I don’t think a specification of 4 1/2 years is really going to serve the ends of justice,” Lavelle said. “This is a situation, judge, where (Parker) is at a picnic. Everybody has a gun. He gets shot at this picnic. Three people, I think, were shot, including the defendant.
“I think we’ve had this discussion in the past. Because of violence in the city, people in the city carry a gun, whether they are under a felony indictment, or whether they have a felony conviction or whether they are” not allowed to have a gun because of a previous felony conviction, Lavelle said.
“The old adage is ‘It’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by six,'” Lavelle said. The saying refers to there being 12 jurors in a criminal trial and six pall bearers at a funeral.
“That holds true here, so we’re stuck with the law as it is written,” Lavelle said.
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