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Most of statement cannot be used in trial against man accused of stabbing roommate

Darrell Hicks is charged with first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter in death of Darin Bernard Pressman

December 21, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Darrell Hicks
Submitted photo

A Washington County Circuit Court judge ruled Wednesday that most of the videotaped statement of a Hagerstown man accused of stabbing his roommate to death cannot be used by the prosecution in his trial.

Judge Daniel P. Dwyer ruled that everything recorded after 2:33 p.m. — about 2 1/2 hours into a nine-hour interrogation — could not be used in the state's case against Darrell Hicks.

Hicks, 53, of 211 W. Franklin St., Apt. 3, is being held on charges of first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure in the death of Darin Bernard Pressman, who body was discovered in the apartment on June 3.

Hagerstown police believe Pressman was killed four days prior to his girlfriend finding the body.

"No, I'm getting tired of repeating myself .... I think I'll just stay quiet," Hicks told Detective Tammy Jurado at 2:33 p.m. during the police interview.

Dwyer ruled that Hicks was "invoking his Miranda right to remain silent" at that point, although he continued to answer questions for several more hours.

When a defendant indicates at any time during questioning "that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease," Dwyer said, quoting from Miranda v. Arizona.

On Nov. 30, a hearing was held before Dwyer on the defense motion to suppress the statement. More than six hours of the videotaped interview was played at the hearing, and testimony was taken from city detectives.

For the first several hours, Hicks repeatedly denied stabbing Pressman, or of being aware Pressman's body was in a bedroom.

"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," Jurado told Hicks during the interrogation.

Hicks, nearly inaudible during much of the interview, motioned with his hand and indicated he stabbed Pressman in the chest "as far as I know."

Pressman was stabbed 10 times in the upper body and neck, police said.  

The alleged admission on the videotape to the stabbing could come into play during the trial if Hicks chooses to testify in his own defense, Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson said after Dwyer's ruling.

While Dwyer ruled that Hicks invoked his Miranda and Fifth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, he also ruled that the statement was given voluntarily and that his 14th Amendment rights and Maryland common law were not violated.

Dwyer acknowledged the "good cop/bad cop" nature of the interrogation, but said Hicks had not been mistreated, threatened or made any direct or implied promises.

Should Hicks testify at trial, currently scheduled for April, the statement could be used to impeach his testimony, or in rebuttal, Wilson said.

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