- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - A state inmate was convicted Monday of second-degree murder for stabbing another prisoner in the neck in an apparent gang hit in a barrack-style, minimum-security housing unit.

Andre Washington, 21, was convicted as part of a plea deal in which he didn’t admit guilt. But he acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to prove him guilty of second-degree murder and illegal weapon possession in the March 26, 2013, slaying of Deavel Johnson at the Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.

Washington County prosecutors agreed to drop five other charges, including first-degree murder.

Washington stabbed Johnson with a homemade knife as the 22-year-old victim sat on his bunk playing a video game in a room sleeping 64 inmates, according to prosecutors and court records.

Johnson, a convicted burglar from Laurel, had told another inmate that the Bloods gang was “supposed to hit him” that night, according to court records.

Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher McCormack said Monday that Washington, serving eight years for a drug conviction, told a fellow prisoner he was coerced into killing Johnson.

“The defendant admitted to him he did this, basically along the lines of, ‘Well, if I didn’t do it, they said they’d do it to me,’” McCormack said.

The deal limits Washington’s sentence to no more than 30 years, 10 less than the statutory maximum. No sentencing date was set.

Johnson’s grandfather Freddy Sinclair Jr. said after the hearing that the prison system had failed his grandson.

“Whatever he did to get there, the state should have been looking out for him,” Sinclair said.

Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Gerard Shields said offenders in the housing unit are observed around the clock.

“Facilities have very few problems in minimum security settings because offenders earn the right to live there,” he said.


A previous version of this story erroneously reported that Johnson’s throat was slashed.

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