A relieved Sue Gray smiled, raised her arms and looked skyward outside the Baton Rouge state courthouse Tuesday shortly after a judge sentenced Randy Parker to life in prison in the 2011 beating death of her 23-month-old grandson, Demarcus Gray Stokes Jr.
“He didn’t deserve this, to be taken away like that, but I know he’s smiling down on us now,” Gray said minutes earlier inside state District Judge Trudy White’s courtroom.
Gray wore a black T-shirt that had Demarcus’ picture on the front with the words “Rest In Heaven.” The back of the shirt declared, “Always In My Heart.” Other family members wore similar shirts, some that said, “Gone But Never Forgotten.”
The boy’s father, Demarcus Gray Sr., also wore a shirt with his son’s likeness and the words “Daddy’s Little Man.”
“I’m just glad he got life,” the elder Gray, who spoke outside the courthouse, said of Parker. “He needs the electric chair.”
Parker said inside the courtroom that he was sorry but added he “didn’t kill nobody.”
Police have said Parker, of Baton Rouge, beat the toddler at Parker’s Erie Street shotgun home because he would not sit still for a haircut and after the child urinated on himself. A pathologist said the boy suffered bleeding under his scalp and on the surface of his brain.
White, who in June convicted the 27-year-old Parker of second-degree murder, ordered that he serve his life term at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.
“I don’t have to worry about coming here anymore and looking at his face,” Sue Gray said. “Now he can go do his time.”
Parker was a convicted felon and the boyfriend of the toddler’s mother, Kimyia Stokes, at the time of the child’s death on Oct. 23, 2011.
Stokes, 26, also of Baton Rouge, is charged with cruelty to a juvenile and obstruction of justice in the death of Demarcus. Her next court date is in December. She remains jailed.
Stokes told investigators that Parker beat her son three times in less than 24 hours between Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, 2011. She witnessed two of the beatings and heard Demarcus screaming during the third, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Stokes also told police that Demarcus’ breathing was irregular about 1 a.m. on Oct. 23, and he stopped breathing three hours later. Stokes and Parker dressed the boy and “waited around trying to figure out what to do and say” before Parker finally called 911 about 6 a.m., the affidavit alleges.
Parker told detectives he was “full of alcohol” the night he punched the toddler with a closed fist on the torso and back, and continued to punch the child once he fell to the floor.
Parker served six months in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison in 2008 on a conviction for attempted second-degree murder, and served another six months a year later after being found guilty of simple assault.