Murder conviction sheds light on correlation between education a - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Murder conviction sheds light on correlation between education & violent crimes

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Quinton Parhams (Source: Montgomery County Jail) Quinton Parhams (Source: Montgomery County Jail)
Tarrance Hall (Source: Hall Family) Tarrance Hall (Source: Hall Family)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

There have been five convictions in high profile cases in as many weeks in Montgomery County and police and prosecutors hope that the verdicts are sending a message that the community is fed up with violent crimes.

Officials are also stressing that the fact that so many suspects are dropping out of school and falling into crime shows the importance of education.

On Wednesday, a jury convicted Quinton Parhams, 25, of Montgomery, of capital murder in connection with a deadly 2013 shooting that claimed the life of Tarrance Hall, 27. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Parhams' trial started Monday in Montgomery County Circuit Court and the jury deliberated for about two hours before delivering a guilty verdict Wednesday morning. 

That afternoon, public safety officials and members of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office joined members of the victim's family at the scene of the crime. 

"In the last five weeks in Montgomery County, there have been five people that have been sentenced to either life without parole or multiple life sentences," said Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey. "The lack of education and the lack of high school diplomas is prevalent in these individuals. There is a huge correlation between not finishing school, not getting an education and these violent crimes."

The murder happened on March 7, 2013 on South Smiley Court in the Smiley Court Apartments off the West Boulevard in Montgomery. 

Tarrance Hall was having a verbal argument with a family member over money when Parhams interjected himself into the fight and became aggressive, displaying a firearm. The two knew each other from the area. 

Prosecutors say Hall got into a car to leave and Parhams fired multiple shots into the car directly where Hall was sitting, striking him multiple times. Hall managed to return fire after he was shot, striking Parhams in the back. Hall died in the car a short distance away. 

Two people in the car with Hall identified Parhams as the shooter and he was charged with capital murder while he was still in the hospital recovering from his gunshot wound. 

Jurors saw a video of the fight captured on a neighbor's cell phone that showed Parhams as the aggressor. 

According to testimony from the trial, Parhams' brother took the murder weapon and other physical evidence from the scene before police got there. 

Hall's family members said they were happy with the outcome of the case. 

"We're just happy that it's all over and that we can move on and put this behind us," said James Hall, the victim's brother.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Green was one of the prosecutors who handled the case and also reacted to the verdict. 

"The jury got it right in this case and I think it reflects the fact that the community is tired of these killings. I hope the verdict is an indicator that people aren't going to accept the level of violence that we've been seeing the past few years," he told WSFA. 

Bailey says Parhams was a basketball star and colleges like the University of Alabama and Kentucky had expressed interest in his talents on the court but he dropped out of school in the 11th grade and got mixed up with the wrong friends and drugs. Now, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. 

Bailey has been visiting Montgomery schools and meeting with students of all ages and telling them about these cases and also stories of local people who have followed through with their education and went on to be very successful.

The Economic Opportunity Institute examined the link between early childhood education and crime and violence reduction and found that "high quality early learning and care is one of the most powerful weapons against crime, while poor early childhood education multiplies the risk that children will grow up to be a threat to every American family."

Montgomery has seen 19 murders so far in 2014. Detectives have a 79% solve rate in the cases.The national average is 67%. In 2013 when the city had 50 murders, they saw a 91% solve rate. The Violent Crime Unit in the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office is working with MPD to put the defendants away for good. 

The unit is comprised of several deputy district attorneys and a dedicated investigator. Its formation late last year was the result of the 50 homicides in 2013. They help investigate and prosecute homicides and high profile robberies.

Parhams' case is the latest in a round of high profile convictions.

Willie Johnson was convicted of murder in May and recently sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2013 murder of Courtney Lawery. Johnson and Lawery were at a friend's house for a backyard get together. Prosecutors say Johnson got angry over losing and left for about 20 minutes. When he returned, he slapped Lawery and shot him with a .40 caliber handgun.

Zendarius White, 20, of Montgomery was convicted in July by a Montgomery County jury of the capital murder of Darryl "DJ" Morris, Jr. White was sentenced to life without parole for the robbery attempt that ended in murder. 

Also in July, Jason Ferguson was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing 19-year-old Jay McCollum in Pike Road in 2012. Police say Ferguson broke into McCollum's home on Stableway Road in the Bridlebrook subdivision as the victim was sleeping. McCollum was shot, stabbed and beaten during the crime.

Wareese Dorch was convicted of 11 counts of robbery during home invasions in Montgomery and he received 11 consecutive counts of life in prison for the brutal crimes. Prosecutors say Dorch tied up local business owners and their families in their homes and robbed them. 

Montgomery Police Chief John Brown said the department is seeing success with ComStat, a multilayered approach to crime reduction. ComStat employs the city's Geographic Information System in order to map criminal activity and identify problem areas. 

"We're in these places where we see where crime is being committed and we put our officers there. It acts as a deterrent and helps catch criminal activities," the chief said. 

He also recognized the neighborhood watch groups and associations for working to prevent crimes and witnesses and victims' family members for working for justice. 

"Montgomery is coming together as one to fight crime because it's not just a Montgomery Police Department problem or a District Attorney's problem. It's a Montgomery problem and we're solving it together as a community," he told 12 News.

"This violent crime that's happening in our community will not be tolerated," Daryl Bailey added. "These young people, before they pick up these guns, they better think because we will catch them and we will prosecute them."

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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