A Kansas City, Kan., man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for the fatal shooting of his boss outside the University of Kansas Hospital.
A Wyandotte County jury in June found 48-year-old Willie E. Parker guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Michel Ziade.
Under the terms of Friday’s sentencing, which occurred exactly two years after Ziade was killed on July 28, 2015, Parker will have to serve 50 years before he can seek parole.
Ziade and his wife owned First Class Medical Transportation Inc., a Lee’s Summit-based company that provides non-emergency medical transport. Parker worked for the company.
On the day of the shooting, Parker and Ziade got into an argument in which Parker beat Ziade before a co-worker pulled him away.
Parker then walked to his vehicle and retrieved a handgun. He followed Ziade into a parking garage and shot him.
Parker did not comment before his sentencing.
Ziade’s friends and family members described how Ziade considered Parker a friend and often helped him out with extra money and would share meals with members of his family.
Ziade’s sister-in-law, Mary Helber-Jamboretz, said he hired Parker over someone she recommended because he thought Parker was a “good guy.”
“Michel had Willie’s back,” she said Friday. “Willie shot him in the back.”
Other friends and family members spoke about what a kind, generous and loving man Ziade was and how he doted on his daughter, who was 5 when he was killed.
Ziade, 54, immigrated from Lebanon when he was just a teenager, spoke several languages, and loved to cook and entertain other people.
More than anything, he was described again and again as a loving and proud father to his daughter, who will now have to grow up without him.
Kristin Ziade described how since her husband was killed, their daughter is afraid to be separated from her.
“She worries constantly that I’m going to die,” she said.
Her husband’s murder has left her in an emotional shell, Kristin Ziade said.
“Being happy doesn’t seem right anymore,” she said. “I breathe and take up space. I do not live in this world.”
Defense attorney Debera Erickson asked the judge to depart from the sentence mandated by lawmakers and sentence Parker so he could seek parole after 25 years of the life sentence. She noted his lack of a previous criminal record, and his struggles with mental illness.
But Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum said that mental illness did not play a role in the murder in which Parker demonstrated “clear thinking and purpose.”
District Judge Bill Klapper said he could find “absolutely no reason” to depart and imposed the more severe sentence.