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Hagerstown stabbing victim lay dead in closet for about 4 days

Roommate charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter

bond set at $750,000

June 06, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Darrell Hicks
Submitted photo

HAGERSTOWN — A Hagerstown man lay dead in a closet for about four days while his roommate, who has been charged in his stabbing death, continued living in their West Franklin Street apartment, Hagerstown Police wrote in charging documents.

The body of 45-year-old Darrin Bernard Pressman was found Friday morning by his girlfriend, who had been trying to contact him since May 30, according to charging documents.

Police said he had been stabbed 10 times.

Pressman’s roommate, Darrell Hicks, 53, of 211 W. Franklin St., Apt. 3, is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. He was being held Monday at Washington County Detention Center.

Hicks initially was held without bond, but Washington County District Judge Dana Moylan Wright set his bond at $750,000 during a bond review hearing Monday afternoon.

Hicks confessed to stabbing Pressman, telling police that his instincts took over when he saw Pressman come out of his bedroom holding a knife, Detective Tammy S. Jurado wrote in a statement of probable cause filed in Washington County District Court.

Hicks said he thought the stabbing happened May 30, and upstairs neighbors said they heard several loud thumps between 11 p.m. May 29 and 1 a.m. May 30, Jurado wrote in the court documents. Pressman’s girlfriend last spoke with him at 7:30 p.m. on May 29.

Hicks initially denied knowing Pressman was dead inside the apartment, but later told police that he had been watching television when Pressman came out of his bedroom holding a kitchen-style knife in his right hand, Jurado wrote in charging documents.

“Hicks said as soon as he saw the knife, his instincts took over and he grabbed the knife from Pressman and stabbed him several times in the neck and upper body,” Jurado wrote. “Pressman backed away from Hicks and stumbled back into his room, stumbling backwards into the closet.”

Hicks said he had considered calling for help for Pressman, but realized he was “gone,” meaning dead, Jurado wrote. Hicks said he wrapped the knife in paper towels and threw it out with the trash, she wrote.

Police found Pressman lying on his back in the closet, Jurado wrote. He had five stab wounds to the front of his body, three stab wounds to the torso, one stab wound at the base of his neck, and one stab wound near his collarbone, she wrote.

Pressman’s cell phone showed 38 missed calls, Jurado wrote.

Pressman’s girlfriend, Karen Haws, said she had arranged to call Pressman when she got off work at 5 a.m. on May 30, and began calling at that time, but was unable to reach him, Jurado wrote.

On June 1, she went to the apartment, where Hicks told her he had not seen Pressman and he did not know where he was, Jurado wrote. On June 2, Haws and her nephew each tried the apartment, and Hicks told each of them that he had given Pressman $800 and believed he was on a “drinking binge,” Jurado wrote. Haws told police she smelled an odor coming from the apartment at that time.

On Friday, Haws returned to the apartment, found the odor overwhelming and told Hicks she was going to Pressman’s bedroom to check on him, Jurado wrote.

Haws said she pushed past Hicks, opened the bedroom door, and saw Pressman dead in the closet, Jurado wrote.

“She immediately fled the bedroom and told Hicks that Pressman was dead,” Jurado wrote in charging documents. “Hicks showed no emotion about learning that Pressman was dead. Haws ran from the apartment to the bar next door for help.”

The bedroom showed no signs of forced entry, and Hicks admitted there was no one in the apartment May 29 or 30 except for him and Pressman, Jurado wrote.

Hicks attended his Monday afternoon bond review hearing from the detention center via closed-circuit television. He was represented by Public Defender Jerome Joyce and did not speak other than to state his name and to say “thank you, ma’am” to the judge at the end of his hearing.

Joyce told the judge that Hicks was disabled from a serious brain injury he received when he attempted to take his own life with a handgun. He said Hicks had been defending himself and cooperated with police.

Washington County Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth A. Camuti-Carranza urged the judge to continue holding Hicks without bail, saying he was on parole at the time of the offense and has an extensive criminal history in Maryland and Virginia.

Wright said the serious nature of the charges and a concern about public safety contributed to her decision to set bail at $750,000.

Hicks lived at the West Franklin Street apartment for about three or four months and identified Pressman as a friend, according to an initial appearance questionnaire filed with court documents.

Hicks had been unemployed for about three years and had lived on Broadway for about a year and a half and at Union Rescue Mission for more than a year before moving in to the West Franklin Street apartment, the questionnaire said.

A preliminary hearing for Hicks is scheduled for June 30 at 8:30 a.m. in district court.

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