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Wanda Alston's
killer gets 24 years

Wanda Alston's
killer gets 24 years

A neighbor who confessed to killing the Washington, D.C., mayor's liaison to gays and lesbians was sentenced on Friday to 24 years--the maximum prison term under voluntary guidelines. District of Columbia superior court judge Judith Retchin could have departed from guidelines and given William Parrott Jr. life in prison for the slaying of Newport News, Va., native and longtime time gay rights activist Wanda Alston. Parrott has no prior criminal record.

Parrott, 38, said a "binge of smoking crack cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol" led him to repeatedly stab Alston, 45, in her home March 16. Parrott tried to get residential drug treatment in the weeks before the crime but was turned down, assistant U.S. attorney John Cummings said. "Perhaps if he'd got that, this might not have happened," Retchin said, adding that she hopes the case draws attention to the need for more available drug treatment.

Alston's friends and family--including her 83-year-old mother, maneuvering with a walker--packed the courtroom. Tissues were passed up and down aisles. Alston's friend Veronica Wilson remembered her as a "kind, loving, generous, sweet human being." "She just had to take his stab wounds one at a time, until she died," said Alston's sister, Aurelia Lewis. "The pain will never go away."

Shackled and in an orange jumpsuit, Parrott faced Alston's loved ones and apologized. "Wanda Alston was not only a neighbor, she was a friend--someone I talked to," Parrott said. Her family believes that's why she opened the door to him. "This is as close to a 'Jekyll and Hyde' situation as I can remember," Cummings said. The judge said drugs are no excuse for crime. "What you did was just horrific--you armed yourself, and it was a brutal assault," Retchin said to Parrott, citing how he washed the knife he used to stab Alston and discarded bloody clothing, then stole her car and credit cards.

But the judge said Parrott accepted responsibility by pleading guilty in April to second-degree murder. "I know you are tortured by the death you inflicted," Retchin said. She recommended he get intensive drug treatment in prison and sentenced him to five years' probation after his release. He must pay $100 for a victim assessment fee and $16,000 in back child support, which his attorney intends to file a motion to suspend. He is required to serve at least 85% of his prison sentence, Cummings said.

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