Victim's Family Wants Harsher Penalty for 2nd-Degree Murder


HAGERSTOWN, Md.— The man accused of killing Steven O’Brien, 26, inside a Hagerstown apartment last April will be sentenced Tuesday morning, after entering a plea to second-degree murder last month.

Cory Usher, 37, could get up to 50 years in prison, but Steven's family says the maximum punishment does not fit the crime. They say they were completely shocked after the plea deal was made and want Usher to receive a harsher punishment than the law allows.

It has been a year since Steven was murdered but his family says the pain is still fresh.

"I’d always heard if you lose a kid it's the hurt that never goes away. I’d always heard that and it's true,” said Steven’s father John O’Brien. “One minute you cry, then you're hurt, then you get mad. You think about things inside and out and all over again and it never goes away."

Usher entered the Alford plea in March to second-degree murder, which means he is not admitting to the crime, but feels there is enough evidence to be convicted guilty at trial.

The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 30 years. Usher is also facing one count of using a handgun in a crime of violence, which carries sentence of up to 20 years.

Steven's family is pushing for the terms to be served consecutively so Usher can be handed the most severe possible punishment. But they say even the maximum penalty of 50 years is not enough.

"It just is not right for someone to be able to kill somebody and be eligible for parole in 15 years just makes no sense,” said John O’Brien.

"I get that everybody, especially the court, the state's attorney, everything, they have a job to do,” said Steven’s sister Angie O’Brien. “But I want them to realize if they don't already that every little decision they make with criminals affects everybody."

There was a bill in the Maryland legislature that aimed to increase the maximum penalty for second-degree murder from 30 years to 40 years. The bill was passed in the state Senate, but it died after failing to go to a vote in the House.

Steven's family says increasing the maximum sentence could help keep murderers off the streets.

"The point of it is, is Cory [Usher] should not be allowed to hurt anybody else,” said Angie O’Brien.

Steven's family says they are hoping his story will make a difference. They want harsher penalties for second-degree murder not just their family but for all the others that have lost a loved one to murder.

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