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Criminal history, probation violation didn't stop officer's accused killer (w/video)

Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., center, who is facing a charge of first-degree murder, makes his first court appearance Monday.
Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., center, who is facing a charge of first-degree murder, makes his first court appearance Monday.
Published Dec. 23, 2014

TAMPA

At an October court hearing in Tampa, someone told a judge that Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., a prolific criminal with a history of drug arrests, was using and selling cocaine.

The court notified his probation officer, who called and told Parilla to report immediately to her probation office in Clearwater. He said he would come in as soon as he could get out of work, according to court records. He never showed.

". . . it is obvious that the subject does have something to hide," probation officer Bridget Atkins wrote in a report. "This officer would recommend that his supervision be revoked and that he be sentenced to a period of incarceration."

A warrant was issued a few days later, about two months before authorities say Parilla shot and killed Tarpon Springs police Officer Charles Kondek.

So why wasn't he picked up?

Despite his lengthy criminal history, authorities said Monday they had no reason to suspect that Parilla, 23, was particularly dangerous — certainly nothing that suggested he was capable of killing a police officer.

"If we had known this is what this guy was going to do, things would have been different," said McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections.

"Unless it's for a violent felony, it's the responsibility of the jurisdiction of the place where he is to arrest him," said Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon. "But they're only going to do that if they happen to come across him."

Records show that early this year, Parilla was released from state prison after serving three years for a litany of felonies in Hillsborough County. After his release, records indicate that he moved to Tarpon Springs, where he began serving probation that was to last until 2017.

On Oct. 16, after Parilla was charged with violating probation, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received notice of the arrest warrant. The information also was entered into state and national criminal databases. That ensured that if any law enforcement officer nationwide came in contact with Parilla, the warrant would be detected.

But for a minor offense like a probation violation, law enforcement would have little reason to launch a manhunt.

"There is no way every agency is going to go out and do round-the-clock surveillance on every violation of probation," McKinnon said.

Parilla's long record of arrests is mostly limited to drug crimes. In 2009, he sold crack cocaine to an undercover sheriff's deputy, according to court records. The same year, he was accused of stealing $520 worth of DVDs from a Gibsonton home and selling them at a pawn shop.

The year after that, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at Parilla's home and found a loaded gun, digital scales, ecstasy pills, a bottle of oxycodone, and bags of crack and marijuana in a bedroom, according to court records. The discovery netted him what was arguably his most serious charge, one of armed trafficking in illegal drugs. But it wasn't enough to send him to prison.

That happened in 2011. In April of that year, Parilla was behind the wheel of a Honda Civic that slammed into a house at 3702 E McBerry St. in Tampa, according to police records. The impact injured a man inside the house. Witnesses told police that two people, a man and woman, got out of the car and ran away. Officers managed to identify Parilla as the driver based on apartment lease paperwork that was left in the car, according to a report.

The crash, coupled with assorted probation violations Parilla accumulated for his previous convictions, was enough for a judge to put him away for three years.

In state prison, he completed a drug treatment program. But his troubles continued.

In 2013, he wrote a letter to Judge Debra Behnke asking if she could order him moved to a different prison. He complained that he was being held in special confinement for fighting with members of a prison gang.

"I was jumped because I told on the Zoe's when they were fighting the Cutthroats," he wrote. "I'm scared for my life. All I want to do is make it home to my kids."

In March, Parilla was released and placed on probation.

Before the October violation, he had been working at Hellas Wholesale Bakery on Roosevelt Boulevard in Tarpon Springs. He stopped coming to work in September, but didn't tell his probation officer, according to court records.

Before seeking an arrest warrant, Atkins tried to find Parilla at Glen's Eureka Apartments at 199 Grand Boulevard, where he had been living since his release.

He wasn't there then. But it was there that he resurfaced early Sunday, pounding on doors, demanding to know who had "dimed him out," according to Pinellas County sheriff's officials. Someone called police with a noise complaint. Officer Kondek responded.

Parilla fired seven shots, then ran over Kondek as he fled, officials said. Blocks away, he crashed before police found him crouched beneath a wooden staircase.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.