“Not harsh enough.”
That’s what the family of murder victims Victoria Adams and 18-month-old Sidney Parrish call the six to 23 months in county jail given to Conrad Jankowski, the man who helped the accused killer flee the scene.
Dressed in a suit and tie, with part of a tattoo showing on the left side of his neck, Jankowski, 23, of Newfoundland, was handcuffed and led from the courtroom Thursday after Monroe County President Judge Ronald Vican imposed sentence.
Jankowski had pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension for helping Michael Parrish, 24, of Effort, flee the scene after Parrish, according to police, fatally shot his girlfriend, Adams, 21, and their baby son, Sidney, in their home on July 6.
Sidney had undergone a successful heart transplant operation before being killed.
Jankowski and Parrish, both members of a white supremacist hate group, were arrested in New Hampshire the day after the killings. Police found Jankowski’s legally owned hunting guns in the back of his van and at least two other guns brought by Parrish.
Parrish, who at the time was a corrections officer at Monroe County Correctional Facility, is being held in Carbon County Correctional Facility without bail, awaiting trial on first-degree murder and other charges. The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty.
Jankowski told police he didn’t know Parrish had killed Adams and Sidney when driving that night to meet Parrish at a location near the house. He said Parrish had called earlier, asking him to drive Parrish and Sidney to the hospital.
He said he picked up Parrish and saw Sidney wasn’t with him. He said it wasn’t until later that Parrish told him he had shot Adams.
“He said two guys were (firing guns) into the house,” a tearfully remorseful Jankowski said in court Thursday, pausing at times. “He said Vicki pulled a gun on him and he shot her and ran out of the house. I asked him if anyone was hurt.
He told me no. I asked him about Sidney, and he said, ‘Vicki’s home. She’ll take care of him.’”
Jankowski said shock and fear kept him from getting rid of Parrish and calling police.
“I don’t know the right thing to say,” Jankowski said as Adams’ mother, Kim Adams, sat sobbing and wiping her eyes nearby. “I know it’s easy to look at me and see this horrible thing that happened. Vicki was my friend, too. She and Sidney meant a lot to me. I can’t even imagine what her family must think.”
Under state guidelines, the standard-range sentence for hindering apprehension in this case is probation to three months in county jail, while the aggravated-range sentence is six months in county jail.
First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso asked the judge to impose a more severe “departure” (from state guidelines) sentence of one to five years in state prison, saying Jankowski knew about the killings from the start and knew full well what he was doing when driving Parrish from the scene. Proof of this is their making an ATM withdrawal in Lackawanna County and removing their cell phone batteries, Mancuso said.
Too upset to address the court herself, Kim Adams handed Mancuso a letter to read aloud. The letter asked the court to impose the maximum sentence on Jankowski, saying he knowingly helped a murderer flee the scene.
Victoria Adams’ father, Malcolm Adams, addressed the court, telling how he last saw his daughter alive in Jankowski’s and Parrish’s company and felt a “sense of evil” from both men.
“He is not innocent,” Malcolm Adams said, referring to Jankowski. “He’s a liar, nothing but a hater.”
Defense attorney Michael Ventrella said this horrific crime generating such intense emotion among the victims’ loved ones and many in the public is understandable, but warned against letting emotion cloud reason in looking at the facts.
“It’s important to separate Mr. Jankowski’s crime from Mr. Parrish’s crime and look at mitigating factors,” Ventrella said.
First, he said, Jankowski is a follower, not someone with a backbone and mind of his own. This, coupled with a need to belong, made Jankowski susceptible to someone like Parrish and the hate group to which Parrish belonged.
Second, Jankowski cooperated with police once arrested and accepts responsibility.
“He has pleaded guilty to exactly what he’s charged with, asking for no deals, which is something that’s never happened with any other client I’ve ever represented,” Ventrella said. “And he’s willing to testify against Mr. Parrish should Mr. Parrish go to trial.”
Ventrella challenged the police’s claim that Jankowski gave inconsistent statements about when he had become aware of the killings, saying any inconsistencies were likely more from fear and shock than an intent to mislead police.
“He tells me he didn’t know about the murders until after police told him,” Ventrella said.