Oakland man gets life sentence for 1994 murder

April 23, 2010 12:56:41 PM PDT
An Oakland man was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing a woman 16 years ago.

John Parquet, 50, was convicted in January of first-degree murder and the special circumstance of committing a murder during a rape for the Jan. 7, 1994, death of Oakland prostitute Lowanda Jackson, 46, behind an abandoned house at 1339 84th Ave. that was frequented by drug users.

Prosecutor Joni Leventis told jurors in her closing argument in the case that Jackson's encounter with Parquet may have started out as a consensual sex transaction but "something went horribly wrong" and Jackson was choked to death.

Leventis said of Parquet, "This defendant isn't about consent. This defendant is about taking what he wants because he's a sexual predator."

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Leo Dorado, who sentenced Parquet today, allowed Leventis to present evidence that Parquet assaulted two other women.

One of those previous crimes occurred on April 24, 1984, when Parquet stabbed and raped Pamela Mason. Mason, now 55, testified about the crime during Parquet's trial.

Parquet, who initially was charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty to assault and rape for that incident but was released from state prison in 1992 after serving just a little more than half of his 14-year sentence.

Leventis also introduced evidence that Parquet assaulted and attempted to rape a third woman in Oakland on Sept. 28, 1994, eight months after Jackson was killed.

Jackson's murder was unsolved for many years but DNA evidence connected him to her death in 2004 and he was charged in 2005. Parquet's lawyer, Alameda County Assistant Public defender Byron Brown, admitted in his closing argument that DNA evidence indicates that Parquet and Jackson had sex.

But Brown said he doesn't think that Leventis proved that Parquet raped Jackson because there were no physical signs of a sexual assault, such as vaginal tearing.

Brown said he also doesn't think the prosecution proved that Parquet intended to kill Jackson.

Dressed in a red jail uniform and wearing glasses, Parquet slumped impassively in his chair and didn't say anything when he was sentenced today.

After Parquet was sentenced, Leventis said she thinks it's appropriate that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, saying, "He's very much a dangerous predator."

Mason, who attended the sentencing, said she's still upset that "I never had the luxury of a trial" and Parquet was allowed to enter into a plea bargain in her case.

She said that if Parquet had received a longer sentence for attacking her, Jackson "would be here now."

Mason said Jackson "didn't die in vain" because Parquet will now spend the rest of his life and won't be able to attack any more women.

But she said, "I'll never have closure."


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