Saying it would be “unwarranted and improvident” to let Mount Washington criminal Paul Parrish be unsupervised by the court system considering his history of violence and irresponsibility, a federal judge has rejected his attempt to end his probation early.
Parrish, 47, is a felon who had killed a man, stabbed others and let his illegal gun get into the hands of a 3-year-old girl who shot herself with it while he was busy smoking pot with the toddler’s mother.
After serving 68 months behind bars for being a felon in possession of a gun, he got out last year and wanted to be released from his three years of federal probation and move to Georgia to work as a truck driver.
U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak ruled on Saturday that isn’t happening.
“Ending supervision now would be wholly contrary to the interests of justice and would denigrate those critical needs and purposes of sentencing,” he wrote.
The federal courts deal with lots of felon-in-possession cases, but the Parrish prosecution was more severe than most considering the death and mayhem that has surrounded him.
He’d once shot a man with an assault rifle. He’d stabbed two others in another incident. He’d fled from the cops. He’d assaulted people. He had guns he wasn’t allowed to have. He portrayed some of those crimes as self-defense scenarios in his world on the streets, but the saddest episode was the death of an innocent — Yasha Ross, age 3, on March 12, 2017.
Parrish and the girl’s mother, Michelle Gandy, were smoking pot in the basement of his Southern Avenue house with another man. Upstairs, Yasha got hold of Parrish’s 9-millimeter pistol and shot herself in the chest. The pot-smokers downstairs heard a shot and found the little girl bleeding. She died at a hospital.
The police said Parrish was sitting on the couch watching TV when they arrived.
At his federal sentencing in 2021, he said he didn’t know how the shooting happened and said that he had “no control over Yasha getting hold of that gun.” He said he kept it in a safe, but police found it lying on the floor.
The prosecutor, Doug Maloney, said the gun was illegal because Parrish is a felon and can’t have any guns. And if he’d obeyed that law, Maloney said, Yasha wouldn’t be dead.
What’s more, he said, Parrish seemed to have learned zero from the episode.
A few months after Yasha’s death, Pittsburgh police arrested him on drug charges after searching his house. They found another gun along with evidence of drug-dealing, including a bulletproof vest and $20,000 in cash. This second gun, loaded and cocked, was tucked under a pillow.
Parrish said the gun belonged to another guy in the house, but Maloney said it was clearly his.
The prosecutor asked for an upward variance from the sentencing guidelines because of the second gun — in the same house where the girl shot herself — and Parrish’s life of crime.
Judge Hornak granted it and told Parrish he’ll have to decide at some point if he’s ready to be a responsible citizen, but until then he’ll be removed from society.
Parrish was released from prison on July 1, 2022. In a motion he filed himself, he said he’s been compliant with the terms of his release and wants to move to Georgia to continue his job as a truck driver and get married. He said he wanted to be released from the last two years of his probation.
But Maloney said Parrish isn’t ready for early release and recounted his history of chaos. He was first arrested at 17 on a drug charge, then for an assault less than a year later. In between, he got caught with an illegal gun. He received short jail terms for all of those crimes. In 1996, Parrish shot and killed a man with an assault weapon. While on bond in that case, he fled from police after a traffic stop.
While out on bond for the shooting and the fleeing, he and another man stabbed two men. Part of Parrish’s knife blade broke off in one of the victims’ backs. Parrish went to state prison. Later, while on parole, he was arrested for guns and drugs and kicked a cop during his arrest.
He went to state prison again. After his parole in 2012, police responded to a report of shots fired and saw Parrish speeding away, leading to a high-speed chase that ended in a crash and Parrish once again fighting with the cops. Police found spent shell casings in the car.
In 2016, Parrish took a gun, which he wasn’t allowed to have, from his girlfriend. That was the weapon that Yasha used to shoot herself the following year.