Gang Member Sentenced In Cheerleader's Drive-By Murder - News, Weather & Sports

Gang Member Sentenced In Cheerleader's Drive-By Murder

By Justin Wilfon

(LOUISVILLE) -- A gang member convicted of killing a teenage girl learned his sentence in a Louisville courtroom Wednesday morning. DeShawn Parker was one of several gang members accused of taking part in the murder almost five years ago. And as WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon reports, prosecutors are hoping he's just the first to be sent away for a long time.

Twenty-five-year-old DeShawn ("DShot") Parker has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. In January, the admitted gang member was convicted of killing 18-year-old LaKnogony McCurley. She was caught in a hail of gunfire as she pulled up to a traffic light in front of Jewish Hospital on July 31, 2000.

Authorities said members of Parker's gang, the Victory Park Crips, were trying to kill members of a rival gang, but shot McCurley by mistake.

Police said that McCurley, a top student and a cheerleader at Central High, was not involved in criminal activity. She had just been awarded a scholarship to UofL before the shooting.

On Wednesday, a judge followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Parker to 25 years in prison. He could have received anywhere from 20 years to life.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne says Parker's conviction could be a big step towards cracking down on Louisville gangs. "I think we have to effectively and vigorously prosecute anyone that's involved in these gangs."

Van De Rostyne says McCurley's murder "was a heinous crime. It was brutal. It was callous."

That's why prosecutors asked the judge to impose a harsher sentence, but he decided to stay with the jury's recommendation.

McCurley's family doesn't like it.

"They're saying he may be out when he's 40," said LaKa Wilson, McCurley's aunt. "She'll never get to see 40. She'll never get to serve out her scholarship from the University of Louisville."

Several other gang members, including DeShawn Parker's brother, Kenneth Parker, are also accused of taking part in the drive-by shooting that killed McCurlery. Prosecutors plan to bring those gang members to trial as well.

Wilson hopes everyone involved in her niece's murder is brought to justice. "They just gunned her down in this feud they had between the Bloods and Crips."

The man driving the car that night, Marcus Stallard, was expected to testify against Kenneth Parker at his upcoming trial, but Stallard was murdered on March 2nd.

"If they try to intimidate witnesses or kill witnesses, we have to go after them with everything we've got," Van De Rostyne said.

Activist Christopher 2X says the violence must stop. "Young black men and black women need to understand that these things are real. I would invite any of them to start coming into these courtrooms to see how black families are getting torn apart."

But now another gang member will be off the streets for at least 20 years -- perhaps a step towards peace. "It's closure that he's off the streets," Wilson said, " because no one else's family should have to go through what we went through."

DeShawn Parker will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years. The trial for his brother, Kenneth Parker, is set to begin in August.

Several other men are also facing charges related to McCurley's murder, and members of the Victory Park Crips are accused of killing two other people as well.

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Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

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