Quincy man acquitted in armed robbery 'relieved' with not guilty verdict

Surrounded by supporters, Pierre Parrish speaks with a reporter Wednesday outside the Adams County Courthouse in Quincy. Parrish was acquitted of armed robbery charges by an Adams County Circuit Court jury. (H-W Photo/Don O’Brien)
Posted: Dec. 11, 2013 3:10 pm Updated: Dec. 25, 2013 5:15 pm
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Pierre Parrish walked away from the Adams County Courthouse at dusk Wednesday clutching a white garbage bag of possession and no coat to combat the chilly December air.

"I don't have a coat because they put me in (jail) after I got back from Florida," Parrish said.

The 28-year-old Quincy man spent nearly three months on the fourth floor of the courthouse awaiting trial after a grand jury indicted him in August on armed robbery charges in connection with the robbery of what was then known as the Hometown Credit Union on the Dec. 22, 2011.

About $2,500 was taken during the heist in the small business at 1420 Harrison.

But Parrish was a free man Wednesday after being acquitted by an Adams County jury following a three-day trial. He faced up to 30 years in prison, and Parrish said he rejected a 20-year plea deal by the Adams County State's Attorney's Office.

"I would have gotten out at about 55 years old (had the jury found him guilty)," Parrish said. "I have a 1-year-old daughter and my son just turned 3, so I wasn't trying to deal with any of that."

Parrish said he didn't agree to a plea agreement because "I knew I was innocent."

At the end of the often wild trial, a jury of seven men and five women agreed with Parrish. They deliberated for nearly four hours Wednesday before reaching a verdict.

Cheers from Parrish's supporters filled the courtroom just after the court clerk read the verdict. Parrish, dressed in all black, hung his head, mouthed the words "thank you" and began to tear up.

"I'm relieved," Parrish said with supporters surrounding him outside the courthouse about a half hour after the verdict was read. "The verdict I'm definitely happy about. I'm not happy about anything else in this situation. They never questioned me in this situation. They just locked me up and held me for months."

The final day of testimony saw Judge Diane Lagoski allow into evidence a jailhouse conversation between Parrish and a key prosecution witness. Parrish called Dayonna J. Tyler on Sunday, a day before Parrish's trial was to start. The two talked of how they could get Parrish out of trouble. A nearly one-minute audio clip of the phone call was played for jurors.

"Are we gonna get me up outta here, man?" Parrish said to Tyler.

"I'm so scared, though," Tyler said.

"I'm scared for you, too," Parrish said.

"But I have a good plan," Tyler said.

"I hope so," Parrish said. "I love you."

In his closing statement, Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard said the odds of someone other than Parrish being the one who held up the credit union were "stratospheric."

Barnard told the jury that the fact that Parrish is shown in photos on various social media sites with a hat and shoes that look similar to the ones seen in surveillance video worn by the man who committed the robbery was significant. He told jurors that Tyler knew too many details about the case that weren't made public.

Tyler on Tuesday said that she had made up two stories she had told police and said she lied during grand jury testimony that she gave during an August hearing. She was jailed on perjury charges just after she was finished testifying.

Barnard said common sense should guide the jury to a guilty verdict.

Public Defense Brett Jansen said the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. He said the jury shouldn't put any weight into the fact that Parrish had a hat and a pair of shoes that looked similar to those worn by the man who committed the robbery.

He said that Tyler "is an admitted liar." He said Tyler "did her homework" before a meeting with police in February after she and Parrish got into a domestic dispute. He said that Tyler researched a Herald-Whig story about the robbery and referred to information contained in the article while talking with investigators.

After Jansen's closing statement, Barnard made one last plea for a guilty verdict.

"The defendant sits there and is hoping you make a mistake," Barnard said to the jury. "The only thing keeping the defendant from walking out that door is the evidence and your consideration of it."

Jansen thought Tyler's testimony was vital in his client being freed.

"There were a lot of factors (that led to the verdict)," Jansen said. "I think Dayonna Tyler's testimony had to be a major factor."

Barnard declined comment after the trial closed.

Parrish commended the jury for the way it handled Tyler's testimony.

"When (Tyler) admitted that she lied (to the police and the grand jury), the jury did a good job of rolling with that," Parrish said. "I was still nervous that it wouldn't have any affect on the case."

Parrish was arrested Aug. 23 near Orlando, Fla., and returned to Quincy on Sept. 22. He was held on a $100,000 bond.

While Parrish was freed, Tyler remained lodged in the Adams County Jail on a perjury charge. She made her first court appearance on Wednesday morning. She was assigned a public defender and was scheduled to be back in court Thursday. Her bond is set at $25,000.