The Maryland man who killed a woman believed to be his wife at a Germantown gas station, in front of her 16-year-old daughter, and then fatally shot himself, had recently been released from prison on parole after serving less than three years of an eight-year drug-distribution sentence, according to court records and law enforcement officials.
Records also show that the man, Johnnie Perkins, 42, had been arrested in April for allegedly failing to listen to police officers during a contentious traffic stop. In another case last month, he was pulled over for suspected drunken driving, and police said they found a loaded semiautomatic handgun in his trunk. A court commissioner at the jail held him on no-bond status, but a judge revised that, allowing him to post bond and get out of jail July 14.
The tragedy has sparked anger from county police, who question why Perkins was not behind bars. Police said Perkins shot and killed Schakina Moody, 34, while her daughter Nyazia was filling the car with gas at the crowded station just after noon Tuesday.
In an interview Wednesday, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, who also serves as president of the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, said that Perkins’s lengthy record should have been a factor during any discussion to let him out on parole so soon into his sentence.
“This guy should have been behind bars,” Manger said. “He’s out in less than three with his record. I just don’t get it.”
He also questioned why, after Perkins’s recent arrest, he was allowed to post a bond and be released ahead of any resolution in the case.
Family members were equally as angry. “It makes it even harder,” said Paul Tue, who is engaged to Moody’s sister. “We feel like she would be alive if the system hadn’t let him slip through the cracks.”
Nyazia has two younger sisters, ages 13 and 8. They are at turns in shock, crying, huddling in relatives’ arms. “There are three little girls without a mom,” Tue said.
A close look at Maryland records over the past several years shows that Perkins was in and out of jail, but not for violent felonies. Under Maryland rules, nonviolent offenders are eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of their sentences. Perkins served 35 percent of his sentence.
“Looking at this case as a whole, you couldn’t have predicted this,” said David Blumberg, chair of the Maryland Parole Commission. “This was a tragic confluence of events.”
Perkins’s record goes back to at least the early 1990s. At that time, he was convicted of assault with an intent to maim. According to a prosecutor’s account during a court hearing, Perkins made a drug deal, police moved in, and Perkins drove his car erratically toward a police cruiser. He was sentenced to five years.
In 2007, Montgomery police charged him with selling crack cocaine. But at his trial, a judge ruled that prosecutors had not met their burden — establishing that a drug deal had taken place — and she dismissed the case before it was considered for a verdict, according to court records.
By 2011, Montgomery narcotics officers had launched a wide investigation of cocaine sales in and around Damascus. Perkins was caught selling crack to a police informant. In 2012, he and his attorney struck a deal with prosecutors — to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of eight years.
At his sentencing hearing Sept. 13, 2012, Perkins spoke about his life; his son had recently died. “He was in Baltimore being in the street life and the gangs,” Perkins said, “and somebody tried to rob him, and they shot him and he got killed. And ever since that day, I really been trying to change my life.”
Under Maryland rules, his parole eligibility came up last year. Perkins was able to put forth a good argument, Blumberg said. He had participated in self-improvement and substance-abuse programs, and appeared to have been a model inmate.
He was released under parole supervision on Feb. 26, 2015, according to state officials.
But on April 22, a Montgomery police officer pulled Perkins over for possible speeding, according to court records. The officer approached the car and had trouble getting Perkins to roll down his window. At one point, after he did, Perkins grabbed the officer’s arm. A judge later convicted Perkins of obstructing and hindering, as well as one count of second-degree assault, and sentenced him to 60 days in jail.
Perkins appealed the conviction, which delayed the sentence, and he was able to post bond and be released while his appeal was pending.
On July 12, Perkins was pulled over in a Camaro and later charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and on other weapons charges, and possible drunken driving. At the jail, a court commissioner ordered him to be held without bond.
The next day, he went before Maryland District Judge Jeannie Cho for a bond review. Robert Hill, a prosecutor, told Cho that Perkins was a threat to the community .
Defense attorney John Lavigne noted that one of Perkins’ main convictions was more than 20 years old, and that — at the time of the hearing — Perkins was employed at a party staging company.
Cho chose to assign a $100,000 bond. Perkins posted it the next day.
By then, parole agents were moving on the case. They got an arrest warrant issued for Perkins on July 16, one that would have held him in jail, according to state officials. It could not be determined how close parole officials were to finding him over the past three weeks. Cho could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Family members of Moody said that she fell for Perkins because she saw good in him, or at least the potential for good.
“She had a soft heart; she had a big heart. She always felt she could change him,” Tue said.
Moody’s sister, Eboni Taylor, said her sister was preparing to start nursing school. “She was so excited,” Taylor said.
She loved getting together with family for cookouts or other gatherings. She had just thrown a sweet 16 birthday party for her oldest daughter.
“She just wanted to live life to the fullest,” Taylor said.