Serving life as an accessory to a 1981 murder, a Jessup inmate dies of coronavirus at 61, family says

Andrew Parker, an inmate at the Jessup Correctional Institution, died Monday night of coronavirus at the University of Maryland Medical Center, his family told the Baltimore Sun.

Parker’s niece, Nekia Randall, said the family was notified of his hospitalization last week, six days after he was founded unconscious inside the prison. Parker is the second Maryland inmate to die from coronavirus in April.


The Maryland Department of Corrections announced on Tuesday that an inmate in his 60s died from COVID-19. Randall confirmed to The Sun on Friday prior to his death that Parker had been hospitalized and suffered from several underlying health conditions.


State corrections officials are refusing to identify inmates who die from coronavirus aside from providing an age range due to “privacy reasons,” Mark Vernarelli, a department spokesman, said.

Vernarelli said the family of the inmate who died was notified within 45 minutes of his death, without mentioning that the inmate was Parker.

Randall said the family wasn’t notified of Parker’s death until almost a day later.

Joseph Green, Parker’s brother, said it was “horrible” the way the family found out that Parker was hospitalized for the virus. Doctors called the family, saying Parker needed a blood transfusion, the family said, and that he was progressively getting better.

Until things suddenly changed.

Now, with the department of corrections not identifying which inmates in the state die from the virus, Green says he wants his brother to be more than just a number of inmate falling victim to COVID-19 in Maryland.

“The way that they put him in the hospital, they should have notified us,” Green said speaking on the department of corrections.


“It’s not right, he’s more than a number and truth be told he served his time. 38 years is a long time to be in prison for something that you didn’t do,” he added.

Parker was convicted on a life sentence at the age of 22 as an accessory to the murder of a Catonsville store owner in 1981, according to Sun archives.

He was convicted by an all-white jury of seven women and five men, archives said.

A county circuit court judge at the time told Parker that he was “fearful” that Parker would commit another crime. Parker responded to the judge saying “this is the black man’s grief" as he walked from the courtroom. He maintained his innocence throughout the appeals process that ended with a sentence of life plus 15 years.


Originally from Catonsville, Parker spent almost 40 years in prison.


He is the second inmate to have died at the Jessup Correctional Institution and had been hospitalized since April 13, the department said. That is the same day that the first death was recorded.

Randall says Parker had three kids and many loving family members including a brother, nieces and nephews, and friends who kept in contact with him during his incarceration.

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“He was a good father and grandfather,” Randall said.

The inmate’s death comes just a day after the department reported over 200 cases of COVID-19 among inmates, guards and other staff at its facilities throughout the state.

In March, several city officials including Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby called on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to release elderly offenders who suffer from underlying health conditions and no longer are considered a flight-risk.

The state’s Congressional delegation joined together to urge Hogan to take swift action to corral what they called the “rapidly spreading outbreak." This came just a day after a federal judge ordered the emergency release of Derrick Boone, a Baltimore inmate awaiting trial.


Inmates in Baltimore city have said they have been left without many options, resorting to making face masks out of the clothes they wear for protection from the virus.

The Jessup Correctional Institution has 52 total cases, including 17 inmates, 22 correctional officers and administrative employees, giving it the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the state system.