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Hicks gets maximum sentence for roommate's 2011 murder

Victim was found lying partially in bedroom closet of Hagerstown apartment

July 12, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Darrell Hicks
Darrell Hicks

HAGERSTOWN — A 54-year-old Hagerstown man was sentenced Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court for the 2011 murder of his roommate, whose decomposing body was found days later in the West Franklin Street apartment they shared.

Darrell Hicks was given the maximum 30-year sentence for second-degree murder by Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer, who gave Hicks another three years in prison for carrying a deadly weapon.

Hicks will have to serve at least half of the 30-year sentence for the stabbing death of Darrin Pressman before he is eligible for parole, Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Wilson said after the sentencing.

Pressman, 45, was found lying partially in the closet of his bedroom on June 3, 2011, although Hagerstown Police believe he was killed on Memorial Day weekend. A medical examiner testified at Hicks’ April jury trial that Pressman had been stabbed six times and had 10 slashing wounds to his head, neck and torso.

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“He should receive no less than the maximum (sentence) permitted by law,” Wilson said.

The jury acquitted Hicks of a charge of first-degree murder, which could have resulted in a life sentence.

The body was discovered by Pressman’s girlfriend, Karen Haws, who had repeatedly tried to contact Pressman for days. She and Pressman’s mother, Betty Pressman, were present for the sentencing.

“The impact of this crime took a part of my heart and soul,” Haws wrote in a letter Wilson read in court.

“He is vicious and evil and wicked,” Betty Pressman said in court. “Darrin was a good person. ... This monster took advantage of him.”

“When he (Hicks) does pass away, he will stand before the Almighty Judge,” the mother said. She asked Hicks to look at a picture she was holding of her son, but Hicks looked away.

Both women said Pressman was starting to turn his life around when it was ended by Hicks.

Hicks has a long history of violent crime — assaults, handgun violations and property crimes — in Maryland and Virginia dating to the 1980s, Wilson told Dwyer.

That included an attempted bank robbery in 2009 in Anne Arundel County, he said. A judge in that county gave Hicks a sentence of time served on the provision that he be driven to Hagerstown by his daughter and enter a treatment program, Wilson said.

“This crime should have never happened, but for the Anne Arundel courts,” Wilson told Dwyer.

Recalling the trial, Dwyer said there seemed to be no reason for the crime other than Pressman planned to move out of the apartment.

The judge told Hicks he appeared to have “a history of just lashing out if you hear bad news or someone just looks at you funny.”

Hicks showed no remorse at the sentencing. When asked if he had anything to say before the sentence was handed down, he directed an obscene comment at Haws.

Assistant Public Defender Kathleen McClernan asked the judge to recommend Hicks serve his sentence at Patuxent Correctional Institution in Jessup, Md., in order to have access to programs for inmates with mental health issues. Dwyer said he would take that under advisement.

Asked if Hicks’ comment to Haws was indicative of his mental health issues McClernan said, “I’m not a social worker, but if I had to take a guess, yes.”

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