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Man Enters Alford Plea in Hagerstown Murder Case

The man accused of killing a Hagerstown man in his apartment last April entered an Alford Plea to 2nd-degree murder Monday. The plea deal came as a jury trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Cory Usher, the man accused of killing a Hagerstown man in his apartment last April entered an Alford plea to second-degree murder Monday, according to the Washington County State's Attorney's Office.

The Alford plea means the defendant does not admit to committing the crime, but feels there is enough evidence to be convicted guilty at trial.

The guilty plea came as a jury trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning. The first-degree murder charge against Usher, 37, was dropped as part of the plea deal.

Usher was arrested last year for the murder of Steven O'Brien, who was found shot to death in his Randolph Avenue Apartment in Hagerstown on April 20, 2013. 

Steven's sister Angie O'Brien says she was the one who found him dead. 

"I found his body, he had been dead about 6 hours when I got there," said Angie, adding that she had been planning to meet her brother at his apartment that day. "Had I been there, [Usher] could have taken my life too."

Usher faces a maximum of 50 years in prison for the murder charge, and for one count of using a handgun in a crime of violence. Assistant State’s Attorney Gina Cirincion said the state will be seeking the maximum sentence.

Two others were also arrested in connection to the murder, Eduardo Gonzalez and Jenaro Torres, who are brothers. According to court documents, their mother was dating Usher at the time.

The State’s Attorney’s Office says Gonzalez and Torres, along with Usher, planned to rob Steven of his cash and marijuana.

Court records show Steven sent out a mass text message on the day of his murder, saying he had marijuana to sell.

Gonzalez and Torres were expected to testify against Usher during the trial.

Gonzalez is currently serving a 25 year sentence for the murder after a plea deal was made in January, according to Cirincion. Torres was just 15-years-old at the time of the murder and is serving time at the juvenile detention center for an armed robbery conviction.

Steven's family says although the men responsible have been caught, the plea deal offers little relief from their pain.

"He should stay behind bars forever, for life,” said Angie, who also thinks Usher could still be a threat to society after 50 years in prison. She says Usher was out on parole for an armed robbery conviction when he murdered her brother.

Steven's family wants people to remember him as the kind and loving person they knew him to be.

"He was a bright kid, he enjoyed people, he had a lot of friends, he would do anything for anybody,” said Steven’s father John O’Brien. “He'd give you his shirt off his back.”

Usher's sentencing has not been scheduled yet.

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