CROWN POINT | Friday's nearly two-hour sentencing hearing for Christina Hicks-Grabski ended when Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez handed the pregnant 23-year-old a five-year prison sentence.
Hicks-Grabski was the last of three defendants to be sentenced in the 2003 shooting death of her stepfather, Merrillville business owner John Parker. Her mother, Judy Parker, 39, was sentenced to 33 years in August, and her brother, Daniel Hicks, was sentenced last month to 23 years.
Hicks-Grabski had been charged with assisting a criminal while her mother and her brother, the actual shooter, each were charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
Parker's slaying was staged as a random robbery and murder, but Judy Parker was found to be behind the plot. Attorneys for her two teenage children sought to portray them as puppets of their mother, but Vasquez found each accountable despite their ages at the time of the conspiracy.
"It's a very, very small pittance to pay for what she did," said Parker's older brother, David, after Friday's sentencing. "It was cold-blooded murder for profit, and she gets five years."
David Parker noted each of the three defendants actually will serve only half their sentence as the law provides.
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"It will never go away for us," he said of his own family.
David Parker continued to insist there were numerous people besides Judy Parker and her two children involved in his brother's death.
"I'm going to pursue the truth for the rest of my natural life," he said.
Representing Hicks-Grabski, attorney Steven Mullins urged Vasquez to consider his client was just 17 at the time of shooting. Testimony by Hicks-Grabski's ex-husband, a close friend and an employer pointed toward Hicks-Grabski having matured into a responsible mother, friend and employee.
But deputy prosecutor Kathleen O'Halloran told the court Hicks-Grabski was instrumental in enlisting her brother's help.
"I couldn't help but think to myself that sometimes evil does come in pretty, petite packages," she told the court.