One of Marcus Parks’ sons testified his father’s killers “robbed” him of the opportunity to have his mentor by his side for his wedding.
Whether he’s missing on the sideline for grandchildren’s sports game or absent at family gatherings where he was known as the life of the party, Parks’ relatives explained in court Tuesday, the void has been palpable every day since the veteran Maryland Transit Administration bus driver was gunned down on duty in East Baltimore in October 2020.
Circuit Judge Lynn Stewart Mays heard from Parks family members Tuesday after a man and woman admitted to their roles in the fatal shooting. The hearing shed further light on the 51-year-old’s life and the callousness with which it was taken from him — gunned down in broad daylight after an apparent dispute over a bus fare.
Cameron Silcott, 25, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony crime of violence. Nichelle Greene, 29, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder, acknowledging that she participated in the robbery that led to Parks’ killing.
Mays is expected to sentence Silcott to life in prison later this week, while the judge tentatively agreed to adhere to the prosecutor’s and defense attorney’s proposed punishment for Greene at her sentencing in August: life with all but 40 years suspended.
Assistant State’s Attorney David Owens said Greene and Silcott began arguing with Parks after he pulled over at a bus stop in the 1200 block of East Fayette Street.
Silcott got upset when Parks couldn’t make change for the $20 bill he wanted to use for his fare and told him to get break it at a store across the street. Greene didn’t want to pay for her pass. As the argument escalated, Greene snatched Parks’ backpack. She tossed it to Silcott and both fled. Parks ran after them.
While Parks chased Silcott, Silcott “held the backpack up, sort of taunting him,” Owens said. Then, Silcott pulled out a handgun and fired an initial volley of five shots.
Owens said a witness was slated to testify that Silcott was the shooter. Several cameras, including one on the MTA bus, captured the majority of the incident.
Parks collapsed over a fence at the Ronald McDonald House Charities on Aisquith Street. Dirt kicked up around Parks’ body as Silcott continued to fire, Owens said.
The shooting appeared to be over, but Silcott ran over to Parks, aimed at his head and pulled the trigger three more times.
Shontee Thomas, Parks’ niece, struggled for words as she stepped up to address Mays on Tuesday. She collected herself and counted off the number of bullets that pierced her uncle’s body.
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten,” Thomas said in an otherwise silent courtroom.
Thomas told Mays that Silcott exhibited no remorse in court.
Silcott wore a yellow jail jumpsuit and sat next to his attorney. In a quiet, raspy voice, he answered a series of questions about whether he understood the court proceedings and was pleading guilty voluntarily.
Assistant Public Defender Janine Meckler said after court that she felt “horrible” for Parks’ family, calling his killing a tragedy. She said Silcott felt remorse, exhibited by the tears welling in his eyes during the victim impact statements.
Greene hurt when it came time for her to plead guilty. She wore a black pant suit and choked up answers to procedural questions from Mays and her attorney Tony Garcia.
After court, Garcia said his client was also a mother, a daughter and “member of our community.”
“A moment of youthful rage and frustration will haunt her for the rest of her life,” Garcia said.
Both attorneys will have the opportunity to tell Mays about their client’s backgrounds at their sentencing hearings, as well as other factors they believe the judge should consider before rendering her punishment.
Investigators got a break in the case when MTA police noticed that the altercation preceding Parks’ death matched a similar incident at BWI Marshall Airport months earlier. That clue led them to a Greene’s residence.
The couple were arrested at her Southeast Baltimore apartment after a standoff.
SWAT officers caught Silcott after he jumped out of the window, Owens said. “As they were taking him into custody, he shouted ‘I did it all by myself. All by myself.”
Detectives searched the residence and found a satchel with two loaded handgun magazines and a black backpack with two of Parks’ MTA identifications inside.
Parks family testified Tuesday that, in addition to being a doting father and devout family man, Parks was a dedicated public servant. They said he was on his first week of work after recovering from a case of COVID-19 when he was killed. He worked for the MTA for 20 years.
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“My father was an essential worker. He risked himself to provide essential travel to the residents of Baltimore,” said Marcus Parks Jr., who told Mays that Silcott and Greene “robbed” him of having his father by his side when he got married.
Aaron Parks embraced his brother while he read a statement Tuesday. Aaron took after his father, a forward on the Lake Clifton High School basketball team in the late 1980s who stayed close to the sport throughout his life, by becoming a standout guard for the Lakers. The brothers described Parks as a strong mentor who imbued in them the values they needed to become successful men.
Terika Diggs, another niece of Parks who grew up with him, said Parks was her “protector” while she was the person who “helped him see others’ perspectives.” She said his presence brightened every family gathering, and that he usually brought fried fish.
“He was the life of the party and our party is now gone,” Diggs said.
His last day was supposed to be a celebration for his older brother’s birthday.
Instead, his family was soon making funeral arrangements.
“My family has suffered so much,” Parks’ sister, Sonia Ratajzak, told Mays. “We are still grieving and we will be grieving for the rest of our lives.”