LOCK HAVEN - The city man arrested over a year ago for breaking into a drug store and then taking police on a high-speed chase that led to a confrontation and gunfire, will spend at least five years in a state correctional institution.
Adam F. Parks, 23, was sentenced to 5 years, 2 months to 11 years by Judge Craig P. Miller. The sentence was handed down yesterday as about a dozen family and friends watched in the small courtroom in the Clinton County Courthouse.
Parks will be given credit for the time he has spent in prison since Aug. 4, 2010.
Parks tried to hug his father after sentencing, but sheriff's deputies intervened, instead allowing him to talk to his father just outside the courtroom.
Parks had been facing up to 97 and a half years on all six felony counts to which he pleaded guilty, but mentally ill last month.
District Attorney Mike Salisbury, representing the Commonwealth, was asking for Parks to be sentenced to between 10 and 20 years, noting the seriousness of the crimes during that "terrible day" in August of 2010.
Parks burglarized the CVS Pharmacy in the Clinton Plaza, then tried to run over four police officers when they cornered him during the chase, which ended when Parks crashed his car on Vesper Street.
During the chase, which reached speeds of 60 miles per hour, police said Parks was blocked by cruisers at South Jones Street. It was there, police said, where shots were fired, with at least seven shots striking Parks' car.
Parks was not hit by any of the shots.
Police said they fired shots after Parks refused to exit his vehicle and instead accelerated in the direction of officers.
A search of Parks' car uncovered 32 drug prescriptions prepared for customers along with 17 bottles of medication never dispensed to anyone, all valued at $4,728.
Parks entered the courtroom Monday in orange prison garb and gave a brief smile to family and friends in attendance.
Salisbury said a pre-sentence investigation showed Parks not only had severe mental health issues, but also drug and alcohol dependency.
Parks told officials he would drink any type of alcohol, but he preferred liquor. He said he started drinking at the age of 19 and drank specifically to get drunk, typically going through a half-gallon of liquor every two days.
Further, Salisbury said, Parks told officials, "I love me some marijuana," and smoked the drug every day it was available, starting at the age of 15. Parks told officials he used cocaine "occasionally," but it was too expensive for him.
"This defendant put the lives of four officers in danger," Salisbury said, noting Parks was high on marijuana at the time of the incident, and was "joking and laughing" at the time of his arrest.
Tpr. Brain Hoy, a 13-year veteran of the state police barracks in Lamar, said he was involved in the high-speed chase and was the officer who sprayed seven bullets into Parks' car when Parks tried to ram the officers.
"I intended to stop him," Hoy testified, adding he was not trying to kill Parks with the shots. "My goal is to make it home at the end of my shift... He made it a little more complicated."
Hoy asked Miller to give Parks a "lengthy" prison sentence so he could "get clean" from drugs and alcohol, and back it up with a lengthy parole, "so this will never happen again."
"He would have his own freedom in his own hands," following his prison release, Hoy said.
Salisbury urged a 10-20 year state prison sentence, not only to protect the community, but to get Parks the help he needs for his mental health and drug and alcohol issues.
"The welfare of the public... mandates a lengthy sentence, followed by a period of supervision so he can get help with his mental health and drug and alcohol issues," Salisbury said.
During testimony, Parks, using very soft words, described himself as a "maniac" during the incident and was not making rational decisions because he was not taking his medications.
"I was hearing a voice that I hadn't heard before," he testified. "It started in May of 2010. It would tell me to do things... I obeyed the voice. It seemed rational."
That "voice," Parks said, told him to go for a drive the night of the robbery, high-speed chase and shootout. The voice told him to break into the CVS only after he was driving past the store and specifically took the drugs in an attempt to overdose.
"Something happened as I went by (CVS)," Parks testified. "The voice was more powerful... omnipotent... and I had to do it."
He then recounted the night, with Lock Haven police officer Jeff Fritts first spotting Parks after the robbery and chasing him in a squad car. Much of Parks' testimony was inaudible from the public.
"I wanted to go home and stay there, but there was a chase," Parks said. "I had him on my tail. I turned without using my turn signal, and they started chasing me."
When asked by his attorney, public defender David Lindsay, why he tried to ram the police vehicles, Parks responded, "Death was the ultimate goal ... either through a car crash or a police shootout. The voice was so powerful. It was stronger than me," he said.
After his arrest, Parks noted he was treated at a state mental institution and has been taking medications since last December to curb his anxiety and the voice in his head.
"To a point (it has been working)," Parks said answering a question from Lindsay. "I'm not hearing the voice."
He further testified he in no longer suicidal since taking the medications.
Lindsay told the court: "Our view is not trying to diminish the severity of the incident. He committed the crime on Aug. 4, 2010... He is taking complete and total responsibility for this," Lindsay said, again emphasizing Parks was mentally unhealthy during the incident. "One person is taking responsibility for what another person did."
Lindsay asked for a shorter prison sentence, with supervision upon his release.
"The person here today is the one who is docile and quiet, as opposed to the maniac," Lindsay said.
Parks then addressed the court, apologizing to many, including the police officers.
"I put their lives in danger and I'm sorry I put them through that," he said.
He then apologized to the manager and employees at CVS for "taking away their sense of security," and to the people whose medications he took that night.
"They couldn't go to the store for their medications," Parks said. "I have no way to know who needed what that night, maybe someone needed heart medication."
But, Parks saved his biggest apology for his family and friends seated in the courtroom.
"They gave me so many chances. Instead of being mad at me, they are here for me and have seen me three times a week," he said. "All they want is a second chance and I think I deserve a second chance.
"It wasn't me. The only thing the same between the Adam Parks of 2010 and today is we have the some name," Parks continued. "There is nothing else the same about that person. I can't even imagine him anymore."
Before handing down his sentence, Judge Miller noted he received about 10 letters in favor of Parks, all stating he is "a kind, compassionate, well-mannered and respectful young man."
"But, this is an extremely serious crime," the judge said. "The defendant suffered from a mental illness at the time of the incident... His ultimate goal was his death. If you had been successful, your friends and family who are here would have an incredible burden. That is not fair for them. If a police officer would have taken your life, that would have been something they would have to live with for the rest of their lives.
"There were seven shots that entered your car. A ricochet could have killed you. Mr. Parks, you are lucky you are here today."
Judge Miller sentenced Parks to between 30 and 60 months in prison for the aggravated assaults on the officers, with the sentences for the assaults against former city police officer Tom Winters and Tpr. Hoy running consecutively, and the assaults against former city police officer Jeff Fritts and Tpr. Eric Kline of state police at Lamar running concurrently.
Further, he was ordered to spend 2 to 12 months in prison, running consecutively, for the CVS burglary; and 3 to 6 days for the DUI, running concurrently.
Judge Miller also ordered Parks to pay over $6,000 each for the city and state police cruisers damaged in the high-speed chase, and $7,728 in restitution to CVS.
After the sentence, Salisbury said it's the Commonwealth's belief every victim should be considered equal, and all sentences should have been equal, and the requested 10-20 sentence would have achieved that.
"Mental illness and the abuse of alcohol and the abuse of drugs played a large part in the defendant's actions that day and I truly hope the defendant addresses all of these issues when spending time at the state correctional institution," Salisbury said. "I hope the officials look at that to a degree when he's up for parole."