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Defense seeks to suppress statement of man accused in roommate's stabbing death

Hearing on motion to exclude Darrell Hicks' police interview from a trial began before 9 a.m. and extended past courthouse's closing

November 30, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Darrell Hicks
Submitted photo

During hours of questioning by Hagerstown police detectives in June, Darrell Hicks repeatedly denied stabbing his roommate and leaving his body in their apartment for several days.

Eventually, Hicks told investigators he stabbed Darin Bernard Pressman.

But it will be up to Washington County Circuit Court Judge Daniel P. Dwyer to determine whether the statement was made voluntarily.

On Wednesday, a hearing on a defense motion to exclude Hicks' police interview from a trial began before 9 a.m. and extended past the 4:30 p.m. closing of the courthouse. More than six hours of the videotaped interview with Hicks was played at the hearing.

Hicks, 53, of 211 W. Franklin St., Apt. 3, is charged with first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure in the death of Pressman, whose body was discovered in the apartment on June 3, according to court records.

Police believe Pressman was killed about four days before his body  was found.

"There's no way on God's green Earth you didn't know something was going on in the front room because of the smell," Detective Tammy Jurado told Hicks during the interview. Jurado told him a woman friend of Pressman's had to "push past you to get into the apartment" and find the body.

In a voice that was often barely audible on the video, Hicks said he thought the smell might have been garbage from next door, that he let the woman in the apartment, and he did not check Pressman's bedroom during the four days his body was lying there.

"I didn't stab him," Hicks said in one of his denials.

Detectives Jurado and Casey Younkers interviewed Hicks, followed by Detectives Shane Blankenship and Charles Coy. The questioning was at times aggressive and at others low-key.

About eight hours into the interview, Hicks indicated he only stabbed Pressman in the chest "as far as I know." Again, his voice on the videotape was barely audible in the courtroom.

"He actually walked back to his room" after being stabbed, Hicks said.

Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson said the state contends that Hicks did not explicitly invoke his right to remain silent during the interview. The hearing was still going on when the courthouse closed, and Wilson said he did not expect the issue to be resolved Wednesday night.

Assistant Public Defender Loren Villa cross-examined Jurado on the witness stand about points in the interview when Hicks said he was "tired of repeating myself," and "I'm not going to say anymore. I think I'll just be quiet."

Jurado testified that she believed Hicks was "frustrated with my line of questioning," but that he was not invoking his right to stop answering questions.

"He's not saying anything else, and you keep asking questions," Villa said at one point.

"He continued to talk to us," Jurado said in later questioning.

Hicks signed a document saying that he had been advised of his Miranda rights against self-incrimination, she said.  

Jurado testified that about an hour into the interview she considered Hicks to be in custody and was no longer free to leave.

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