Man gets 40 years for mur­der

Killed West­lake stu­dent last year in botched drug deal

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CERONE WHITE cwhite@somd­

The man con­victed of mur­der­ing an 18-year-old West­lake High School stu­dent in Oc­to­ber was sen­tenced to 40 years in prison on Mon­day in Charles County Cir­cuit Court.

Af­ter a four-day trial in May, Dea­van Quin­del Jef­fer­son, 20, was found guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in the death of Reuel La­paris Hicks, 18, a se­nior at West­lake High School, who he shot in

the head af­ter a drug deal went awry out­side the AMC movie the­ater near the St. Charles Towne Cen­ter mall. The deal in­volved a small amount of mar­i­juana.

Pros­e­cu­tors be­lieved Jef­fer­son had in­tended to rob Hicks of the mar­i­juana, while the de­fense ar­gued that Jef­fer­son acted in im­per­fect self-de­fense; they ar­gued it was Hicks

and two of his friends who had in­tended to rob Jef­fer­son be­hind the movie the­ater.

Jef­fer­son was orig­i­nally charged with first-de­gree mur­der, but the jury con­victed him of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.

As­sis­tant state’s at­tor­neys Jonathan Beat­tie and Con­stance Kopel­man told the jury dur­ing the trial that it was not self-de­fense; the shoot­ing was pre­med­i­tated. Pre­med­i­ta­tion, they said, doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be an elab­o­rate plan,

rather just enough time to con­sider the act be­fore com­mit­ting it.

“You know what you’re go­ing to do, you have time to think about the op­tions, and you make a choice,” said Beat­tie dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments. “He thought about it, he did it, and he’s guilty.”

Be­fore Judge Erik H. Nyce, a Prince Ge­orge’s County Cir­cuit Court judge, sen­tenced Jef­fer­son, mem­bers of the vic­tim’s fam­ily made state­ments ex­press­ing how they felt about the day the

shoot­ing hap­pened and how Jef­fer­son’s ac­tions have af­fected the fam­ily.

Words were not minced and as tears flowed, so did anger, hate and dis­gust as the vic­tim’s aunts and other fam­ily mem­bers told the judge why Jef­fer­son should be given the full manda­tory sen­tence of 58 years for killing their fam­ily mem­ber, one who they said had a promis­ing ca­reer and life ahead of him.

“It hurts me ev­ery day; he didn’t de­stroy us ... he reached down into our fam­ily and stole from us,” said one of Hick’s aunts. “Judge, when you make that sen­tence to­day think as if it was your son. [Jef­fer­son is a] mon­ster.”

“You killed my son. He was un­armed and be­cause of you, my son’s son was born with­out a fa­ther. I know you planned it and I hope you never never get out of jail,” said Hick’s mother.

“You failed, you cow­ard. I hope your days are long and your nights are even longer,” said an­other of Hick’s aunts. “I hope even on your deathbed that God doesn’t have mercy on your soul.”

Jef­fer­son’s par­ents were present in the court­room but didn’t speak. Jef­fer­son’s lawyers spoke on their be­half to the court.

The de­fense team asked the judge not to give the full manda­tory sen­tence re­quired by law, in­stead ask­ing Nyce to con­sider the sen­tenc­ing guide­line of 18 to 35 years. The lawyer also made men­tion that Jef­fer­son has an

is­sue of men­tal ill­ness and that this should be con­sid­ered when de­cid­ing the sen­tence. Af­ter a 45-minute re­cess, Nyce came back and de­liv­ered the sen­tence.

Jef­fer­son was sen­tenced to a to­tal of 50 years — 30 years for sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, and 20 years for a hand­gun charge to be served con­sec­u­tively. With 10 years sus­pended, Jef­fer­son will serve up to 40 years in prison.

“The level of harm was ex­ces­sive,” Nyce said as he de­liv­ered the sen­tence.

“The [pros­e­cut­ing] at­tor­ney did an ex­cel­lent job on this case,” said Charles County State’s At­tor­ney An­thony Cov­ing­ton (D). “For sen­tenc­ing, the vic­tim’s fam­ily was there and they were very sup­port­ive … we sup­ported them and think that jus­tice was served.”

“This is just an­other shak­ing-your-head sit­u­a­tion of sense­less vi­o­lence [and] peo­ple gone way too soon,” Cov­ing­ton said.

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