On September 11, 2020, Vershawn Hudson-Crawford, age 17, of Berlin, Maryland, was sentenced by the Honorable Brian D. Shockley, Administrative Judge of the Worcester County Circuit Court, to serve 35 years in the Division of Correction, with all but 22 years suspended. Judge Shockley ordered Hudson-Crawford to be evaluated for admission into the youthful offender program within the Division of Correction. Upon release, Hudson-Crawford will be on supervised probation for 5 years, and was ordered to be evaluated for mental health and substance abuse treatment. In January of 2020, Hudson-Crawford pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Dehaven Nichols.
On May 22, 2019, Hudson-Crawford and his mother drove to the Berlin Police Department where he told investigators that 2 days earlier, he had been involved in a fight with his friend, Dehaven Nichols, and that Nichols had died as a result. Hudson-Crawford directed investigators to a tax ditch on the east side of Route 113 near the Decatur Apartments in Berlin, Maryland, where they located Nichols’ body. An autopsy determined that Nichols’ death was caused by a combination of multiple significant injuries, including blunt force trauma, strangulation and asphyxiation. The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation, Berlin Police Department and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office all assisted with the investigation.
State’s Attorney Kris Heiser noted that the State made a lengthy argument at sentencing requesting the maximum penalty of 40 years, with all but 25 years suspended, and thanked Assistant State’s Attorney Karen Dean, who prosecuted the case. Heiser stated, “This case presented a true tragedy which will continue to affect the youngest members of our community for years to come. The violent and needless killing of Dehaven Nichols, a 17-year-old with his whole life ahead of him, is cause for immense sadness, and we offer our sincere condolences to his family and to everyone suffering from his loss. My prosecutors will continue to stand up for victims like Dehaven by maintaining deep respect for every life and by aggressively prosecuting anyone who so casually takes a life away.”